Sinovel, a Chinese manufacturer of wind turbines, has been convicted of stealing trade secrets from US-based AMSC (formerly known as American Superconductor Inc.).
The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Scott C. Blader for the Western District of Wisconsin.
The trial took place over a period of eleven days and the jury convicted Sinovel of ‘conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud’.
According to the press release: Sinovel convinced Karabasevic, who was head of AMSC Windtec’s automation engineering department in Klagenfurt, Austria, to leave AMSC Windtec, to join Sinovel, and to steal intellectual property from the AMSC computer system by secretly downloading source code on March 7, 2011, from an AMSC computer in Wisconsin to a computer in Klagenfurt. Sinovel then commissioned several wind turbines in Massachusetts and copied into the turbines software compiled from the source code stolen from AMSC. The U.S.-based builders of these Massachusetts turbines helped bring Sinovel to justice.
As a result of the theft, and the unfulfilled promise and contract from Sinovel, AMSC lost more than $1 billion in shareholder equity and 700 jobs worldwide (which was approx. 50% of its workforce at the time).
Acting Assistant Attorney General, John Cronan said, “Sinovel nearly destroyed an American company by stealing its intellectual property. As today’s jury verdict demonstrates, this type of conduct, by any corporation – anywhere – is a crime, and won’t be tolerated. The Department is dedicated to helping foster innovation and growth in our economy by deterring and punishing intellectual property theft from American companies.”
U.S. Attorney, Scott Blader said, “Today’s verdict sends a strong and clear message that the theft of ideas and ingenuity is not a business dispute; it’s a crime and will be prosecuted as such. Sinovel’s illegal actions caused devastating harm to AMSC. I commend the efforts of the investigation and prosecution team, and reaffirm the commitment of this office to protect American commerce and prosecute those who would seek to steal intellectual property.”