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VIA Says Asus Stole Its Trade Secrets

On Tuesday VIA Technologies filed a civil suit against Asustek Computer and its subsidiary Asmedia Technology in the Taipei District Court seeking damages of at least NT$4.137 billion (US $138 million). The lawsuit arrives after a decision made by the Taiwan Prosecutor to pursue criminal proceedings against the subsidiary and four of its employees, including R&D VP Chang Chi. The charge? Stealing trade secrets.

"The lawsuit is being filed to recover the losses incurred as a result of the alleged misappropriation of VIA intellectual property related to USB technology," reads VIA's press release. "Also named in the suit are Asmedia Chairman Jerry Shen, Asmedia President Lin Chewei, and other Asmedia employees involved in the case."

The lawsuit alleges that Chewei Lin, a former VIA executive, and dozens of VIA employees departed from the company in 2007 and joined Asus Group's Asmedia. They supposedly took VIA's intellectual property related to USB technology with them, including host controllers and device controllers. Eventually, Asus Computer became the largest single purchaser of Asmedia USB products, including USB 3.0.

However, prior to Lin joining the company, Asmedia had no expertise in the USB field. The Taiwan Prosecutor believes that both the complexity and the legacy USB 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0 intellectual properties required for creating USB 3.0 solutions makes it "extremely difficult to develop and take such chips into mass production in such a short time frame [of one year]."

"As a long-time leader in IC design and technology innovation, VIA strongly believes in the importance of protecting intellectual property rights," commented Wenchi Chen, CEO of VIA Technologies, Inc. "In addition to protecting interests of VIA and our shareholders, the aim of this suit is to ensure our industry operates in a healthy market environment that fosters innovation and promotes fair competition."

In addition to seeking damages, VIA is also requesting the court to instruct Asmedia to "cease the production and sales of the allegedly infringing products."