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Apple might fine its sapphire supplier $50 million for every secret it leaks

Apple might fine its sapphire supplier $50 million for every secret it leaks

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It's well known that Apple takes secrecy quite seriously, but we're now learning just how seriously that is: it apparently may fine a partner that reveal its secrets up to $50 million for every slip up. That figure comes from a court document filed by Apple's sapphire glass supplier, GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings that are, in part, related to what it calls "oppressive and burdensome" agreements with Apple.

Even the confidentiality agreements are confidential

It appears that several secrecy arrangements are among those agreements. Though the court document doesn't refer to Apple by name, GTAT notes that it may be subject to these heavy fines for violating various confidentiality agreements that it's made with another company — and it's hard to imagine another partner of GTAT's imposing such steep penalties. The Financial Times also reports that the third party is Apple.

This incredible level of confidentiality is making bankruptcy proceedings tough for GTAT. Not only is it requesting that the court allow it to file certain documents in secret — which Reuters reports is "unusual" for a bankruptcy filing — GTAT is also asking that even its request for secrecy be kept a secret. "GTAT recognizes the unusual (and perhaps unprecedented) nature of the request," it writes in a court filing. The company writes that the potential fees have "compelled" it to request this level of confidentiality.

GTAT is also seeking to shut down the Arizona plant it uses to make sapphire glass for Apple. The decision apparently comes as a surprise to even Apple, and it's likely that this will disrupt its ambitious plans for using sapphire.