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Chinese wind turbine maker found guilty of stealing US trade secrets

Washington – Sinovel, one of China’s leading wind turbine makers, was found guilty on Wednesday of stealing proprietary technology from US firm AMSC, causing ASMC $800m in losses, the Justice Department said.

A Wisconsin jury convicted Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd, of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud after an 11-day trial.

It said that in 2011, Sinovel recruited an Austria-based AMSC employee who stole source code from AMSC computers that formed the basis of its technology for regulating the flow of electricity from wind turbines to electrical grids.

At the time AMSC, formerly known as American Superconductor Inc, was selling its technology to Sinovel. Obtaining that code allowed Sinovel to drop its orders to the US company as it took the technology for its own, causing AMSC an estimated $800m in losses.

‘Severe financial hardship’

Losing Sinovel orders plunged AMSC into “severe financial hardship”, as the company’s market value fell by $1bn and it was forced to cut 700 jobs, more than half of its global workforce.

“Sinovel nearly destroyed an American company by stealing its intellectual property,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan.

“As today’s jury verdict demonstrates, this type of conduct, by any corporation – anywhere – is a crime, and won’t be tolerated.”

The US government has repeatedly warned of Chinese companies, both private and government-related, seeking to steal US trade secrets and technology.

Last week, a Chinese software developer was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing computer source code from IBM to hand over to a Chinese government agency.

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