US charges Chinese wind company with stealing trade secrets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 11:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 1:44am


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The Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind and two of its employees have been charged with stealing trade secrets from an American company by the US Department of Justice.

A federal grand jury in Wisconsin returned an indictment levelling theft charges on Sinovel, two of its employees and a former employee of AMSC, a Massachusetts-based company that provided wind turbine design, engineering services and power electronics and controls to Sinovel. Authorities said the theft allegedly cost AMSC US$800 million.

Sinovel officials were not immediately available for comment.

In 2011, AMSC, which mainly supplies electrical systems used in wind turbines, filed several lawsuits in China against Sinovel alleging the illegal use of AMSC's intellectual property.

AMSC, which was formerly known as American Superconductor Corp, said at the time it wanted to recover more than US$1.2 billion in damages.

The company's chief executive, Daniel McGahn, said: "The fact that Sinovel has exported stolen American intellectual property from China back into the United States, less than 40 miles from our global headquarters, shows not only a blatant disrespect for intellectual property but a disregard for international trade law."

AMSC called on US President Barack Obama's administration and the US Congress to re-evaluate the trade relationship between the United States and China.

AMSC said that over the past two years, more than 500 of the company's staff around the world have lost their jobs after Sinovel's "egregious and unlawful behaviour."

The defendants indicted are Su Liying, the deputy director of Sinovel's research and development department; Zhao Haichun, a technology manager for Sinovel; and Dejan Karabasevic, a former AMSC employee.

Sinovel, once AMSC's largest customer, contracted with an AMSC employee in Austria to get the software designed for Sinovel's turbines.

Richard McFeely, executive assistant director at the FBI, said: "The Sinovel case is a classic example of the growing insider threat facing our nation's corporations and their intellectual property."