Apple warned leakers that sharing information about unreleased products could mislead third-party accessory makers and disappoint customers, in cease and desist letters sent by legal firms representing the company.
Vice today highlighted that, in an extensive letter sent to a leaker based in China, Apple warned that leaks could give third-party accessory makers the wrong dimensions and details about unreleased products. It has emerged over the past month that June saw a concerted effort by Apple to curtail information coming from a range of individual leakers outside the United States using cease and desist letters.
Despite being sent by various local law firms representing Apple around the world, the letters appear to have featured identical content. An extract of one of the letters, seen by MacRumors, reads:
In addition, premature disclosures about unannounced products can also harm customers worldwide when the relevant information disclosed is inaccurate, and third parties – such as accessory manufacturers – develop and sell cases and other accessories that are in fact incompatible with the unannounced product because, for example, the design or dimensions differ. Such situations are harmful to customers and to Apple. Therefore, it is obvious that when the unpublished information about the design and performance of Apple’s products is kept confidential, it has actual and potential commercial value.
The statement is an unusual admission from Apple that some case and accessory makers rush to prepare accessories for new Apple products long before their release based on leaked information. Even if initial dimensions and information that come out as a result of leaks are accurate at that time, Apple may make changes to designs that make accessories ineffective or obsolete by the time of the product’s official release.
Apple appears to suggest that ill-fitting accessories harm its brand in the eyes of customers, which apparently proves the commercially sensitive nature of information about unreleased products and the company regards leaks to be “illegal disclosure of Apple’s trade secrets.” The letter also implied that keeping details about unreleased products secret also has “potential commercial value” for third parties.
As well as misinforming third-party accessory manufacturers, Apple also highlighted the fact that customers may be directly let down by leaks about “rumored” or “unreleased” products.
Apple has made every effort to take strict measures to maintain confidentiality for any information about Apple’s products before their official release to ensure that every time Apple releases a new product, it can surprise the public. The secret of Apple’s latest technological innovation is an important part of the company DNA.
The implication here is that leaked information may negatively affect customers’ expectations, but also that secrecy is a key attribute of Apple’s brand itself, so leaks are in turn commercially damaging to the company’s image.
The leakers known as “Kang” and “Mr. White” are believed to have been impacted by Apple’s recent letters, as well as the render “CConceptCreator,” but it is not clear how widespread last month’s attempt to silence leakers around the world was.