Engineers Sentenced For Stealing Tech From US Chipmaker Micron and Trasferring it to China

Follow us on social media

UMC and Fujian Jinhua signed a partnership in January 2016, with the latter providing $700 million in equipment and research funding to the Taiwan company for developing a manufacturing process for making dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Fujian Jinhua would then use that process to mass-produce the chips.

DRAMs are semiconductor memory chips that store data within digital products.

That same month, UMC created a “new business development center” in southern Taiwan’s Tainan city, for the sole purpose of creating the manufacturing process for Fujian Jinhua. The center was headed by Chen Zhengkun, former president of Micron’s Taiwan subsidiary, Micron Memory Taiwan (MMT). He resigned from MMT in July 2015, then joined UMC not long after.

According to the U.S. indictment, Chen recruited many MMT employees into working at UMC, including Ho Chien-ting and Wang Yung-ming, who joined UMC in November 2015 and March 2016, respectively.

Taiwan’s prosecutors found that before joining UMC, Ho downloaded Micron’s trade secrets for making DRAM chips and saved them onto his personal flash drives. Ho later transferred the trade secrets to his UMC computer. Ho also took documents from MMT to UMC.

Prosecutors also found that while Ho was employed at UMC, he was also receiving a salary from Fujian Jinhua.

Wang also downloaded Micron’s trade secrets on making DRAM chips and saved them to his personal flash drive. He then uploaded the trade secret files to his Google Drive, and then accessed and downloaded the files when he was a UMC employee.

The third person found guilty on June 12 was Rong Le-tien, a manager at UMC’s new business development center and a supervisor to both Ho and Wang.

According to prosecutors, Rong asked Wang to use MMT trade secrets to perfect UMC’s development of the DRAM manufacturing process, in a bid to save time and costs.

Rong was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison with a fine of $6 million New Taiwan Dollars ($202,406), Ho to 5.5 years with a fine of $5 million New Taiwan Dollars ($168,672), and Wang to 4.5 years and a fine of $4 million New Taiwan Dollars ($134,937).

According to Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency, UMC said it would appeal the ruling, while Micron said it welcomed the verdict.

Taiwan’s court ruling was the culmination of a long legal battle between the three companies.

In December 2017, Micron filed a civil lawsuit in California, naming UMC and Fujian Jinhua as defendants for theft of Micron’s DRAM chip trade secrets, while naming Rong, Ho, Wang, and Chen as co-conspirators, according to court documents.

A month later, UMC counter-sued in China. The following July, a Chinese court banned Micron from selling 26 chip products in the country, according to Reuters.

In November 2018, UMC, Fujian Jinhua, Ho, Wang, and Chen were indicted by U.S. federal prosecutors for conspiring to steal trade secrets related to DRAM memory chips from Micron.  As of press time, the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on the future of the U.S. case.

China, which is heavily reliant on foreign imports for semiconductors, had set a target for domestically producing 70 percent of its semiconductor needs by 2025, under its ambitious industrial policy “Made in China 2025.” Beijing is in great need of memory chips, such as DRAM and NAND flash, and has sought to develop its indigenous memory industry.

Currently, the DRAM market is dominated by Micron and South Korean tech firms Samsung and SK Hynix, the three firms accounting for more than 90 percent of global market share.

China’s state push led to the formation of several state-run memory companies, including Fujian Jinhua, established in 2016 by state-run company Fujian Electronics and Information Group, and the municipal governments of Quanzhou and Jinjiang, cities located in southern China’s Fujian Province.

Together, the three founders of Fujian Jinhua pooled together 37 billion yuan (about $344 million) for the first phase of the investment, state-run media People’s Daily reported in July 2016.

Just prior to the U.S indictment, the Department of Commerce also enacted an export ban against the Chinese company, citing “a significant risk of [it] becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national interests of the United States.” South Korean media reported that China’s state-run ChangXin Memory Technologies became the first Chinese DRAM chip supplier when it started initiating sales in February.

On June 12, Chinese media Caixin reported that China’s first domestically built DRAM chips, made by ChangXin, had reached the market.

But China’s memory chip ambitions are still faltering. According to estimates in a May report by Arizona-based semiconductor market research company IC Insights, ChangXin only began limited production of its first DRAM products in the fourth quarter of last year.

Additionally, ChangXin’s annual capital spending, at $1.5 billion, paled in comparison to the combined capital spending of $39.7 billion by Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron in 2019. “IC Insights remains extremely skeptical whether the country [China] can develop a large competitive indigenous memory industry even over the next 10 years that comes anywhere close to meeting its memory IC needs,” the report stated.

Related Articles

The HPV Vaccine: An Ethical Dilemma

In 2014 there were numerous reports of mass hysteria and mystery illnesses spreading around the small town of El Carmen De Bolivar, Colombia. According to an article published by CBS, there was a steady increase of young women being hospitalized in this small town, all of which reported the same symptoms of fainting, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, and headaches. Speculations about the Gardasil vaccination arose, but were disregarded by the mayor of the town stating that “there is no evidence the vaccine, which has undergone extensive testing and regulation is to blame” (CBS, 2014). According to this statement, he is not necessarily wrong, because the clinical trials of this vaccine have been proven to have misleading conclusions due to errors in the study design.

COVID Reference

Six weeks after the third edition, the world has changed again.
The pandemic is raging in South America, particularly in Brazil,
Ecuador and Peru. SARS-CoV-2 is under control in China, but in
Iran it is not. And in Europe, where most countries have weathered
the first wave and open borders to save a compromised tourist season, is now wondering if and for how long this biological
drôle de guerre could last.

Science has moved ahead, too. We have seen a more complex
picture of COVID-19 and new clinical syndromes; the first data
from vaccine trials; first results from randomized controlled
drug studies; encouraging publications on monoclonal neutralizing antibodies and serological evidence about the number of people who have come into contact with SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, we have also seen the first science scandal with fake data published in highly ranked journals. And we face new challenges like long-term effects of COVID-19 and a Kawasaki-like inflammatory multisystem syndrome in children.

For quite some time, prevention will continue to be the primary
pillar of pandemic control. In future waves of the SARS-CoV-2
pandemic, we will focus on the conditions under which SARSCoV-
2 is best transmitted: crowded, closed (and noisy) places and
spaces. Although hospitals are not noisy, they are crowded and
closed, and the battle against the new coronavirus will be decided
at the very center of our healthcare system. Over the next
months and maybe years, one of all of our top priorities will be
to give all healthcare workers and patients perfect personal protective equipment.

Mass Exodus out of Big Cities on Both Coasts Taking Place

In all of U.S. history, we have never seen anything like “the mass exodus of 2020”. Hundreds of thousands of people are leaving the major cities on both coasts in search of a better life.  Homelessness, crime and drug use were already on the rise in many of our large cities prior to 2020, but many big-city residents were willing to put up with a certain amount of chaos in order to maintain their lifestyles.  However, the #COVID19 pandemic and months of #civilunrest have finally pushed a lot of people over the edge.  Moving companies on both coasts are doing a booming business as wealthy and middle-class families flee at a blistering pace, and most of those families do not plan to ever return.

Spotlight Grows on Mysterious ‘Suicide’ of Dr. Fauci’s Right-Hand Man at NIAID; Dr. Judy Mikovits Says Top Scientist Was “Suicided” to Silence Him

Top virologist Dr. Judy Mikovits is shedding some well-needed light on the mysterious death of top scientist Kuan-Teh Jeang, who was second in charge under Dr. Anthony Anthony Fauci at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the time of his controversial death. Mikovits detailed on the Thomas Paine Podcast that Jeang, who was 54, was poised to blow the whistle on falsified government research, fake clinical data and widespread vaccine fraud that was killing Americans before his untimely demise.

Responses