A former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) employee was indicted yesterday for theft of trade secrets linked to the chipmaker’s 28-nanometer process technology, the Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office said.
The engineer, surnamed Wu (吳), copied the technological information in September last year with the aim of taking the data with him to China when he took up a new job at CSMC Technologies Corp (華潤上華) in December, the office said in a news release.
“The engineer contravened the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法), as he intended to use and divulge the trade secrets he illegally copied in China,” the statement said.
Wu was also indicted for breach of trust, the office said.
CSMC Technologies, based in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, makes chips from less advanced 6-inch and 8-inch wafers on a contract basis, according to information on its Web site, with analog chips accounting for 60 percent of its total revenue.
Wu’s alleged intellectual property theft is the latest case in recent years, as Taiwanese semiconductor engineers and employees have become a top recruiting target for Chinese semiconductor firms.
Poaching skilled engineers and retired executives from Taiwanese semiconductor giants is a shortcut for Chinese rivals seeking to reduce their dependence on foreign chipmakers, GlobalWafers Corp (環球晶圓) chairwoman Doris Hsu (徐秀蘭) said last week.
GlobalWafers, the world’s third-largest silicon wafer maker, has taken legal measures to protect its intellectual property in the face of jobhunters seeking to poach its employees, Hsu said.
Chinese companies have recently raised the level of their poaching efforts by offering salaries three to five times higher than normal to regional executives and their team members, Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) said on Tuesday.
About 50 employees of Nanya Technology — the nation’s biggest DRAM chipmaker — last year quit to take jobs with Chinese firms, the company said.
It said it expects its Chinese rivals’ poaching would continue as long are they are unable to license patents held by the world’s major memorychip makers.
Phison Electronics Corp (群聯電子), a designer of NAND flash memory controllers and modules, yesterday said that its employees must comply with restrictions on their cellphones at its fabs.
Employees must cover their cellphones’ cameras and install an app designed to block access to the cameras, the firm said.
Phison said it has stepped up its efforts to protect itself against corporate espionage after two of its engineers last year were discovered stealing company trade secrets.
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