Three Chinese nationals have been handed prison terms as part of an ongoing investigation into the leaking of sensitive product information from Apple’s largest manufacturing partner in China.
The Shenzhen Bao'an People's Court ruled that the boss of an electronics accessories manufacturer paid an employee of Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry to give up secretive specs on the iPad 2, six months before its official release, so as to make protective cases for the gadgets.
Hon Hai, better known by its trade name Foxconn, makes the iPad 2, iPhone and other products for Apple in its factories in China. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics products.
Xiao Chengsong, general manager of Shenzhen MacTop Electronics, was found guilty of having offered 20,000 yuan ($3200) as well as discounted MacTop products to former Hon Hai employee named Hou Pengna, for information about the iPad 2.
The court documents revealed that Ms Hou then paid Hon Hai researcher Lin Kecheng for digital images of the device's back cover from last September, six months before the iPad 2 was publicly announced.
The court said Mr Xiao was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and fined 150,000 yuan.
Mr Lin was sentenced to 14 months and fined 100,000 yuan, and Ms Hou was sentenced to a year in prison and fined 30,000 yuan.
Insatiable demand for Apple products in China has been the source of several reported cases of criminal activity, violence and even deaths.
Late last month three workers died following an explosion at a Foxconn factory in central china. The incident occured as Foxccon continued to face scrutiny over worker conditions after several workers committed suicide.
A few weeks earlier several people were injured following a mini-riot at an Apple retail store in Beijing as shoppers clamoured to get their hands on the white iPhone 4 and Ipad 2, supplies of which were thin due to unscrupulous resellers buying bulk quantities of the products.