Psystar case reveals Apple's shaky e-mail retention policy

Apple has for years, but the company has yet to embrace systematic email and document retention policies that are common among publicly traded companies.

According to a recent (page 7) in the Psystar vs Apple antitrust case, Apple employees are responsible for maintaining their own documents such as emails, memos, and voicemails. In other words, there is no company-wide policy for archiving, saving, or deleting these documents

This could pose a problem in the event of a lawsuit. In recent years, companies have been after failing to retrieve old emails and other files required as evidence. The fear of fines and other sanctions has resulted in many companies instituting strict "e-discovery" retention policies, and has helped give rise to a new class of .

An e-discovery lawyer, who asked not to be named because his employer (a firm you probably have heard of) doesn't want him speaking to the press, explained the basic legal requirements surrounding email and document retention to The Standard. "If litigation is anticipated, the party has a duty to preserve potentially relevant documents," he said.

"An employee retention program with no organization or coordination is effectively incapable of compliance," he continued, "barring an act of God, or luck akin to picking every game right in an NCAA pool. Apple's retention policy is negligent."

Consider this scenario: Employees could have emails from five years ago that become "potentially relevant", but because there was no policy in place regarding e-documents, those records could easily become destroyed -- making it potentially impossible for a plaintiff to make a case from internal documents.