One can violate the federal trade secret law in several ways. Transmitting the information, as the Apple employees did, is one way. Receiving information "knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization" is another. That's what Ciarelli did. He even solicited such information with a "Got dirt?" message and phone number on the Think Secret site, a second violation. Even an attempt to commit one of the offenses breaks the law.