A court in south China has jailed three people for stealing the design to Apple's iPad2 tablet computer and using it to manufacture counterfeits, state press said Wednesday.
The theft from a plant run by Foxconn, a contract electronics manufacturer, in Guangdong province late last year resulted in fake iPad2s being sold in China before Apple's official launch of the product, the Guangzhou Daily said.
Rampant piracy of everything from consumer electronics to luxury handbags and apparel have caused friction between China and its trade partners, leading to billions of dollars in losses annually to intellectual property theft.
A court in Shenzhen city last week sentenced Xiao Chengsong, the legal agent of Maita Electronics, to 18 months in prison and fined him 150,000 yuan ($23,000) for buying the design from two Foxconn workers, the report said.
Xiao allegedly paid 200,000 yuan for the iPad2 design, it said.
Foxconn employee Lin Kecheng, was sentenced to 14 months and fined 100,000 yuan, while another worker identified as Hou Pengna was given a two-year sentence suspended for one year and fined 30,000 yuan, it said.
All three were convicted of the crime of violating commercial secrets, it said.
The iPad2 was officially launched in China, the world's biggest Internet market, in May.
In 2010, Apple's iPad, the first generation of the tablet computer, was also pirated before its official launch in China and sold as the "iPed" for only a fraction of the cost of the real product.