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Tech & Science U.S. Chip Engineers Charged in Theft Scheme for Chinese Firm

16:07  07 december  2017
16:07  07 december  2017 Source:   bloomberg.com

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Four former engineers at Applied Materials Inc. were charged by the U . S . with trying to steal chip designs from the semiconductor equipment giant to sell them to a Chinese startup, which may fuel The charging papers don’t detail the value of the theft or the amount the engineers sought in funding.

[–] bitfriend2 0 points1 point2 points 1 hour ago (0 children). This fits in with Trump' s larger plan to cut China down by cracking down on their trade practices.

A technician pushes a cart of semiconductor wafers at the Applied Materials Inc. facility in Santa Clara, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2016.: U.S. Chip Engineers Charged With Secrets Theft for Chinese Firm© Bloomberg/Bloomberg U.S. Chip Engineers Charged With Secrets Theft for Chinese Firm (Bloomberg) -- Four former engineers at Applied Materials Inc. were charged by the U.S. with trying to steal chip designs from the semiconductor equipment giant to sell them to a Chinese startup, which may fuel fears the world’s second-largest economy is resorting to illegal tactics to break its dependence on chip imports.

Liang Chen, Donald Olgado, Wei-Yung Hsu and Robert Ewald are accused of downloading data from Applied’s internal engineering database, including more than 16,000 drawings, and plotting to lure investors to fund a U.S. and China-based startup that would compete with their former employer, prosecutors said Wednesday in a statement. The stolen specs detailed Applied’s processes for high-volume manufacturing of chips used to light and electrify flat-screen TVs and smartphones.

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U . S . Chip Engineers Charged With Secrets Theft for Chinese Firm - www.bloomberg.com. Agriculture Scheme for Decimal Classification That was when one Chinese company resorted to theft , Micron said in documents filed Mr. Wang and other engineers who were charged said they

The engineers are accused of downloading data from Applied Materials’ internal engineering database and plotting to lure investors to fund a U . S . and China -based startup that would compete with their former employer.

If convicted, the four face as long as 10 years in federal prison for each of 11 counts of possessing stolen trade secrets. They’re scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 15 in San Jose, California.

“Applied Materials vigorously safeguards its intellectual property from theft or unlawful use," company spokesman Ricky Gradwohl said in a statement. “We support the legal action in this criminal case to ensure that anyone who obtained our trade secrets illegally is brought to justice. We cannot comment further on pending legal actions.”

Contact information wasn’t immediately available for attorneys for the four men.

Intellectual Property

Applied plays a pivotal role in the chip industry as the largest supplier of the machinery needed to manufacture the vital electronics components. Much of the expertise and intellectual property value that chip companies have is derived from their mastery of the process technology that goes into producing chips, something that’s becoming increasingly harder as the limits of conventional materials like silicon are reached.

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U . S . Chip Engineers Charged in Theft Scheme for Chinese Firm (bloomberg.com).

China is the largest consumer of semiconductors as an end market and very little of that demand is met by domestic companies. The government of the world’s most populous country is budgeting billions to building a local industry. Attempts to acquire U.S. Chip companies by China-related entities have been blocked by regulators.

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Four former engineers at Applied Materials Inc. were charged by the U . S . with trying to steal chip designs from the semiconductor equipment giant to sell them to a Chinese startup, which may fuel fears the world’ s second-largest economy is resorting

Micron, an American chip maker, says its designs were swiped to help a new Chinese plant. Washington sees a larger pattern, fueling tensions with JINJIANG, China — With a dragnet closing in, engineers at a Taiwanese chip maker holding American secrets did their best to conceal a daring

There are no Chinese companies in the list of the world’s top semiconductor makers. While plants are increasingly being located in China, they’re owned by companies from other countries. China’s imports of chips have periodically exceeded the value of its spending on oil, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. research.

The criminal scheme is tied to the complex process of growing crystalline layers on chips called metal organic chemical vapor deposition, technology developed by Applied after “years of research and testing, and millions of dollars in investment,” according to the indictment. Applied’s “Paragon” project led to the development of a consumer product called NLighten, which the engineers allegedly tried to replicate and build on.

Competing Company

Sometime while they worker together at Applied from July 2000 to December 2012, the four employees conspired to steal the MOCVD technology and use it to create a competing company called Envision, according to prosecutors. Using their personal email accounts to detail plans, they allegedly tasked lower-level employees with helping them download confidential material, then stored it on a Google drive account, while physically removing the MOCVD technology from Applied’s offices in Santa Clara, California.

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state-owned Chinese companies. None of those five officials have been arrested or seen in an Two years ago, the White House vowed to make investigations and prosecutions in the theft of trade The indictment includes emails from several of the accused Chinese professors and engineers dating to

The charges they face include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and various conspiracy counts. Each carries penalties that could include 10 to 15 years in prison plus fines. David Johnson, FBI special agent in charge in San Francisco, called the scheme a "methodical and relentless effort

Late in 2012, they attempted to recruit investors to fund Envision in both the U.S. and China, according to the indictment. Prosecutors cite an email in which Olgado shared with his co-conspirators the need to keep their project “under wraps,” especially among prospective investors who’d independently identified the source of their technology.

The charging papers don’t detail the value of the theft or the amount the engineers sought in funding.

In the final days of President Barack Obama’s tenure, his administration warned that China’s push to develop its domestic semiconductor technology threatened to harm U.S. chipmakers and put America’s national security at risk, and called for greater scrutiny of China’s industrial policy. China’s goal to achieve a leadership position in semiconductor design and manufacturing, in part by spending $150 billion over a 10-year period, requires an effective response to maintain U.S. competitiveness in the industry, according to the report.

The case is U.S. v. Chen, 17-cr-00603, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Uber Investor Sues Over Self-Driving Car Firm Acquisition .
The suit, filed Wednesday by Uber investor Lenza McElrath III, comes as a California judge delayed until Jan. 31 a trial over trade-secret theft claims brought against Uber by Alphabet unit Waymo. McElrath accuses directors of ignoring “red flags” about the 2016 acquisition of Levandowski’s firm that amounted to “an improper and potentially criminal raiding of Google’s assets,” according to the complaint.Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman, said executives were reviewing the suit and declined to comment on it.

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