US Accuses China of Stealing Micron Trade Secrets
- The Knowledge Group
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When the U.S. Department of Justice decides to start a case against someone, it only comes as a surprise if the charges criminal indictments purposely kept in the dark until a grand jury is finished or if the targeted party is completely oblivious to the activities. In both civil and criminal cases, the DOJ has an extremely high win record, which essentially means in most cases you’re either going to settle or go to trial as a targeted party.
Such is the dilemma now for 3 people and two companies caught up in charges of corporate espionage for China. For anyone in the know, however, successful Chinese companies don’t just involve simply private businesses. All are fully supported and financed by the Chinese government, which makes their activities in the U.S. a fine line between pure business and government-sponsored activities. And that line is easily crossed under U.S. law, ergo DOJ’s involvement.
Per the charges, the individuals and companies listed allegedly stole trade secrets from a U.S. semiconductor manufacturer, Micron. The value of the secrets, often involving exactly how to create and manufacture microscopic electronics, is estimated to be $100 billion. In the case of Micron, the secrets had to do with advanced design work on expanded flash storage or random access memory, the storage a computer uses immediately versus what’s stored on a hard drive. The case started as a private civil lawsuit between Micron versus Fujian Jinhua and United Microelectronics Corp. It then became a civil suit joined by DOJ to block export. Now criminal charges are added to the mix to up the stakes.
The formula is simple: China didn’t have this technology before, now they do, and the charged people and companies were the ones who stole it from Micron working with the U.S. company on a project. In the ongoing trade war game between the two mega-countries, the current allegations are the latest round of friction between Washington D.C. and Beijing, but the Chinese are staying quiet letting the DOJ saber-rattle lawyer books.
Whether its costly tariffs restricting Chinese import trade to the USA, increased technology demands in China, or realizing it’s cheaper to steal than license, the corporate spying has been increasing. And DOJ has been far more active in similar cases with the real question in it all being where is Beijing going to move next.
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