Former Micron Employees Imprisoned for Giving Trade Secrets to China Fab

(Image credit: Micron)

Micron Technology, an American maker of memory products, has a Micron Wafer Technology Co., Ltd. arm in Taiwan dedicated to manufacturing silicon wafers. A Taiwanese court sentenced two former managers to prison for leaking confidential information and trade secrets from that division to a competing company in China, reports UDN. The issue extends beyond the two employees sentenced to prison, though, as three other former employees are still working their way through the court system.

Huayaco, a former company acquired by Micron and named Taiwan Micron Wafer Technology Co., Ltd., employed several high-tier Micron managers, Zhang Nan (49), Fan Nan (50), Chen Nan (43), Zhang Nan (44), and Zhang Nan (49) [machine translated]. These employees were allegedly involved in stealing Huaya's trade secrets and sharing them with China-based competitors.

According to the report, the employees took pictures of cleanrooms in Huaya's facilities with their phones and printed them before sending them to Hefei Zhiju Company in Mainland China. This company is Taiwan Micron's competitor. 

Taiwan's court has also ruled that Zhang and Fan even downloaded files with trade secrets about the construction and production of wafers and sent them via the internet to the Hefei Zhiju Company in Mainland China. The court has sentenced them to 2 and 3 years, respectively, in prison for these acts.

China-based companies have faced long-standing accusations that they regularly steal IP from foreign companies. The UDN report notes that China Wafer Technology, where five of the aforementioned individuals went to in 2016, offered these former employees very high monthly salaries of 200,000 Yuan, equalling about 30,000 USD.