The trial of two Silicon Valley engineers charged with economic espionage and selling secrets to a company in China started today in San Jose. Lan Lei and Yufei Ge have been charged with stealing trade secrets from their previous employers, NetLogic Microsystems and Taiwan Semiconductor):
Calling Lee and Ge “traitors” to NetLogic, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella told the jury that the case was about stealing cutting-edge chip designs to set up a company that was backed by a Chinese venture capital program and China’s military… Parrella told jurors that the government would present a “treasure trove” of evidence that the two engineers conspired to steal NetLogic’s technology, including e-mails and material found on their home computers linking them to business plans with China and its venture capital arm, known as the “863 program.” Government attorneys also said they have evidence the two stole company secrets from Taiwan Semiconductor.
…In statements to the jury, defense attorneys August Gugelmann and Tom Nolan said the men were carrying out the most commonplace of Silicon Valley stories — using their engineering know-how to build their own company with their own ideas…
“This case isn’t really about economic espionage, it’s not about spying and it isn’t about stealing trade secrets,” Gugelmann said. “What this case is really about is our clients wanting to start a company of their own based on their own ideas, their own design.”
See also past CDT posts on economic espionage.