FBI says Taiwanese man stole chip designs

A 35 year-old engineer was arrested Sunday and charged with sending semiconductor designs from a California company to its Taiwanese competitor.

U.S. authorities arrested a 35-year-old California man and charged him with illegally sending proprietary data from his employer, a Fremont, California, company that makes semiconductors, to a competitor in Taiwan, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

Shin-Guo Tsai of San Jose, California, was arrested by agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Sunday and charged with sending e-mail containing "data sheets" from Volterra Semiconductor to CMSC, a Taiwanese company that is a competitor of Volterra, according to published reports.

Volterra did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Tsai, a design engineer, allegedly e-mailed the information in December 2004 and is being charged with violating a law that prohibits interstate or foreign transportation of stolen property. He appeared in federal court in San Jose on Monday and was held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Volterra makes semiconductor chipsets that regulate and monitor digital semiconductor power consumption. The information included design documents for the company's 1100-series product, according to published reports.

The FBI led the investigation into Tsai along with the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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Paul Roberts

IDG News Service
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