Apple: Buys Back Shares, Faces Chinese Authors In Court and More

Apple is finally breaking their silence with regards to their plans of their billion dollar cash pile – they’re going to buy back shares.

In a conference call this morning, Apple stated that they will issue their first dividend since December 1995 — a $2.65 per share quarterly payout starting in the fiscal fourth quarter, which begins on July 1, 2012.  The company will also buy back up to $10 billion in shares starting in fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012.

“We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.  “Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.”

“Combining dividends, share repurchases, and cash used to net-share-settle vesting RSUs, we anticipate utilizing approximately $45 billion of domestic cash in the first three years of our programs,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead.”

Chinese Authors

Back in January, a group of nine Chinese authors operating under the China Written Works Copyright Society sued Apple for 11.9 million yuan ($1.9 million) for copyright infringement in Beijing’s No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.  The authors claimed that Apple published 37 of their works in the App Store without their consent.

An update on that matter now tallies 23 authors suing Apple for 50 million yuan ($7.7 million), though the lawyer representing the group could not confirm that number.

“As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately,” Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based Apple spokesman said. She declined to get into the specifics of the Chinese writers’ claims.

But  Wang Guohua, a Beijing lawyer representing the writers, claims that the works of the Chinese writers were made available via the Apple Store without their permission, violating their copyright.  Though Apple deleted some books after the suits were filed in January, some works quickly reappeared, which were apparently uploaded by developers that sell apps through the Apple Store.

“Some developers, with whom Apple has contracts, put them back online again,” said Wang of the United Zhongwen Law Firm. “It is encouragement in disguise, because they did not punish the developers. The developers could have been kicked out. But nothing happened to them.”

The Daisey Scandal

Mike Daisey is an actor/author/monologist best known for his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which he performs in theaters across the U.S. and even aired on This American Life – a weekly hour-long radio program produced by WBEZ and hosted by Ira Glass.

Daisey’s scandalous claims against Apple generated a lot of attention and negative publicity for the company.  But after his program aired on This American Life, the show retracted that what Daisey claims to be the truth were actually “a piece of theater, not a factual report.”  It was a concoction of things he saw, things he read about, things he just made up.

Rob Schmitz, China correspondent for the public radio program Marketplace, did his own investigation upon hearing Daisey’s claims.  He was able to prove that most of the content of Daisey’s monologue weren’t true.  Schmitz and Glass even had an interview with Daisey to clarify things, and even if Daisey was already caught lying, he did not admit to any of it.

“I think I was terrified that if I untied these things, that the work, that I know is really good, and tells a story, that does these really great things for 15 making people care, that it would come apart in a way where, where it would ruin everything,” Daisey pertaining to lying about talking to people poisoned by hexane on his trip to Foxconn.

After This American Life’s retraction and their follow up interview with Daisey, they thought Daisey would finally admit that his monologue was based on lies and not facts, but the opposite happened.  On Daisey’s blog site, he posted:

“I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.”

“What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic ­- not a theatrical ­- enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret. I am proud that my work seems to have sparked a growing storm of attention and concern over the often appalling conditions under which many of the high-tech products we love so much are assembled in China.”