Apple chipmaker employee charged with stealing secrets

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chips
There's big money in chipmaking.
Photo: Intel

An employee of Apple chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been charged with stealing secrets from the company, and trying to take these to a new job in China.

It’s just the latest in a string of examples of attempted industrial espionage that highlights the dark side of the rush to win orders from companies like Apple.

Only the surname of the employee in question — Chou — has been released by Taiwan’s Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office.

Chou is charged with copying confidential documents regarding TSMC’s 16nm and 10nm node processes and related facilities, and then resigning to take a new job at Shanghai Huali Microelectronics. Chou has been indicted for breach of trust.

TSMC discovered the theft and reported it to prosecutors. However, it won’t make public comments or provide additional details until the case has entered its judicial process.

The theft of trade secrets

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered theft of trade secrets here at Cult of Mac. Back in 2015, another ex-TSMC employee was sued by the company after reportedly leaking some of its R&D secrets to Samsung, thereby allowing it to catch up in the chip fabrication business. Taiwan’s top court ultimately ruled in favor of TSMC.

Earlier this year, an Apple employee who downloaded blueprints for its self-driving car circuit board and then attempted to flee with them to join a company in China was arrested.

Source: Digitimes