iPad 2 mockups and cases were floating around CES 2011 and the internet long before Apple announced the device, and now China has fined the people responsible for leaking the information, and sentenced them to over a year in prison.

The court announced the decision Tuesday in statements on its official account at Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service in China. It said that Xiao Chengsong, general manager of Shenzhen MacTop Electronics Co., had offered 20,000 yuan, or about $3,000, plus discounts on MacTop products to a former Hon Hai employee named Hou Pengna, for information about the iPad 2. The court said Ms. Hou then paid Lin Kecheng, a Hon Hai research-and-development employee, to get 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.

Since the factories making the devices and near the factories making the accessories, leaks have always occurred. In the highly competitive accessory market, having a case or other product ready when Apple launches a previously secret new device gives a huge first mover advantage. (Which is why Apple lately has a case of their own, like bumpers or SmartCovers, ready to go at launch.)

Video of TiPb's hands on with an iPad 2 dummy, after the break.

[Wall Street Journal]