Start-up Bird offers shared electric scooters service in 40 cities across the United States through a mobile phone app.
However, recently, Bird has accused Cory Doctorow, a journalist, of copyright infringement for he posted on a forum about a device that enables discarded scooters, bought at auction, to be fitted with new motherboards.
That means the modified shared electric scooter can be used without the Bird app.
Doctorow's blog post on Boing Boing is about a large number of abandoned or randomly parked shared electric scooters that have been removed by local authorities, cleaned up and sold legally.
The post said a $30 motherboard would replace the related original hardware of shared electric scooter, but not the other hardware or the software Bird installed.
A spokesman said Bird's legal team had been "overstretched" in issuing the takedown request.
The company's legal letter accused Doctorow and the Boing Boing website of " promoting the sale/use of an illegal product that it solely designed to circumvent the copyright protections of Bird's proprietary technology" and of "promoting illegal activity in general by encouraging the vandalism and misappropriation of Bird property."
Doctorow called the threat as "absurd" and published the letter in its entirety on the electronic frontier foundation (EFF) website.
EFF called the legal threat unfounded.
"Bird may not be pleased that the technology exists to modify the scooters that it deploys but it should not make baseless legal threats to silence reporting on that technology," it said in response.
Bird has now apologized.
A spokesman said: "Bird celebrates freedom in many ways - freedom from traffic, congestion as well as freedom of speech "
"In the quest for curbing illegal activities related to our vehicles, our legal team overstretched and sent a takedown request related to the issue to a member of the media. This was our mistake and we apologise to Cory Doctorow. "
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