Chipmaker UMC pleads guilty to trade secret theft, China’s bid to steal propriety chip designs unravelled

In a significant development United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) stated, it has pleaded guilty to trade secret theft in the United States, and will be paying a fine of $60 million and will cooperate with the prosecution of China’s Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd.

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had indicted the Taiwanese contract chipmaker, Fujian and three individuals for conspiracy to steal, possess and convey trade secrets of U.S. peer Micron Technology Inc alleging that the Chinese state-owned company had used those secrets in its chip designs.

Fujian had previously denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement UMC said, it had pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a stolen trade secret as well as receiving it; it however pleaded that did not transfer Micron’s intellectual property to any unauthorized third-party information to Fujian.

As part of a plea deal, UMC said the DOJ would dismiss allegations including conspiracy to commit economic espionage, as well as a related civil case.

The Taiwanese firm will also be subject to a three-year term of “non-supervised probation”. “Aside from the fine amount, UMC has no further financial obligations to DOJ,” said the Taiwanese chipmaker.

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