Six employees including Design VC Thomas Chien at HTC Corp. have been indicted in allegedly leaking the design for an upcoming smartphone interface.

Most of us who daily see pictures of devices ahead of release wonder how they actually leak. These pictures are usually taken from factory employees who sell the photos to major media publications. When it comes to HTC though, things get serious.

According to CNET, six employees of the Taiwan Corporation have been accused of leaking the design for an upcoming smartphone interface, developed by the company itself. During late August, the particular rumor about HTC having a home-brewed OS in the works — aimed at the Chinese market solely — has been floating the web.

The indicted employees include HTC product design vice president Thomas Chien, HTC research and development director Wu Chien-hung, HTC senior manager of design and innovation Huang Kuo-ching, senior manager of design and innovation Huang Hung-yi, manufacturing design department manager Hung Chung-yi, and employee Chen Shih-tsou. According to sources familiar with the story, the six individuals received $1.1 million from kickbacks and creating false phone expense reports.

Under Taiwan’s recently revised Trade Secrets Act, those found guilty of leaking trade secrets to other countries can be charged with as many as 10 years in prison and a fine of between 100,000 to 1.6 million dollars.

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