After the revelations about the alleged new iPhone hit the internet earlier in the week, Apple has reportedly asked that the lost prototype be returned to it as soon as possible.
Tech site Gizmodo got its hands on the device, which was apparently discovered in a Californian bar and then went on to examine it in detail and disclose its specs to the tech world.
The letter sent to the site from Apple, in which a polite request for the return of the device is given, proves that the product is definitely linked to the smartphone manufacturer, although it does not confirm that the device will eventually become the next iPhone.
The events surrounding the discovery of the iPhone prototype are intriguing, as it was left in a bar with a disguise shell protecting the phone to make it look like a standard iPhone 3G S.
The individual who found it was going to return it to the owner, but all of the data was wiped overnight and so they apparently sold it to the highest bidder in the media.
Gizmodo has confirmed that it paid about £3250 for the prototype, allowing it to break the exclusive story. "Does Gizmodo pay for exclusives? Too right!" Publisher Nick Denton said via Twitter.
Rival site Engadget apparently decided against buying the rights to the iPhone exclusive because "it encourages awful behavior in tipsters," according to editor Joshua Topolsky.
Publisher Gawker Media, which handles Gizmodo and others, has been willing to shell out huge amounts of money in the past for exclusive stories.
It offered nearly £65,000 for anyone who could get it some alone time with the iPad back in January 2010, which resulted in an irate complaint from Apple.
The legality of purchasing an item which has been lost by one individual and discovered by another is questionable, as Californian law states that anyone who does not attempt to return a found item to its owner is guilty of theft.
Whether Apple will take legal action over this matter remains to be seen, although with the launch of the next iPhone drawing closer it could just cut its losses and ignore the whole event.