updated 12:00 pm EDT, Thu April 28, 2011
Accessory makers may have paid for early info
Three workers at Foxconn's factories in Shenzhen, China have been formally charged with leaking the design of the iPad 2, reports say. The charges were actually filed on March 23rd, following arrests made on December 26th. The suspects are accused of violating Foxconn trade secrets rather than Apple's.
Foxconn is said to have tipped off the police after it emerged that there were accessory makers selling iPad 2 cases before the tablet itself had been revealed by Apple. The company suspected an inside job, likely because because the cases bore a close match to the final product. It's not yet clear if anyone took payments for the leaks, although this may be probable given the extremely low pay of Foxconn assembly workers.
The company may have a hard time controlling the flow of Apple-related information. Despite strict discipline, including even guards with machine guns, it's impossible to monitor all of the 200,000-plus workers at Foxconn's Shenzhen campus. Demand is also extremely high for Apple products, spurring legal and illegal markets alike.