Over the past few months, Apple has seemingly taken a much harder stance against online leakers, sending out cease and desist letters to social media accounts that post assorted rumors that quickly spread around the web. Now Apple has a message to go along with it: you’re not harming us, you’re harming the cases.

In a cease-and-desist letter obtained by Motherboard, Apple’s law firm in China went after a leaker who had “advertised stolen iPhone prototypes on social media.” In the letter, Apple said the leaker has “disclosed without authorization a large amount of information related to Apple’s unreleased and rumored products, which has constituted a deliberate infringement of Apple’s trade secrets.”

According to Motherboard, Apple wrote that leaks harm customers by taking away the element of surprise, but also have an adverse effect on case makers and buyers. Apple told the leaker that “third-party accessory manufacturers may develop and sell mobile phone cases and other accessories that are not actually compatible with the unreleased products.”

That’s a new avenue in the fight against leakers. While other phone makers work closely with big-name case makers to ensure availability at launch, Apple doesn’t often supply specs until after launch, leaving case makers in a tight spot. That’s why many of them follow rumors as closely as we do and make prototypes and actual shipping units based on leaks.

We’ve seen numerous case makers over the years trot out iPhone cases weeks and months before they arrive on the market. Occasionally the first batch doesn’t quite fit the actual product or has the wrong name on the outside, and Apple wants to stop that in the interest of quality control. Since Apple can’t actually prevent a case maker from launching a new product based on a leak, it’s appealing to the source to stop spreading information.

“It is obvious that when the unpublished information about the design and performance of Apple’s products is kept confidential, it has actual and potential commercial value,” Apple wrote.

Of course, we already know basically everything about the iPhone 13 and have already gotten some info about the iPhone 14. The rumor market is robust for giant companies like Apple and Samsung and it’s unlikely that these efforts will have a major impact on the reporting and dissemination of rumors anytime soon. But if you buy an iPhone 13 case that doesn’t quite fit when you pop your iPhone into it, don’t blame Apple. Blame the leakers.

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