UMC settles with Micron in court over tech theft case


United Microelectronics Corp (UMC,) and Micron Technology Inc announced yesterday that they have settled a civil lawsuit in which the US memory chip maker accused the Taiwanese company of stealing and disclosing its intellectual property to a Chinese partner.

UMC must make a one-time payment of an undisclosed amount to settle all competing claims between the companies around the world, according to a joint statement.

UMC said it did not expect the payment to have a significant impact on its financial position.

Photo: Reuters

The move ends a high-profile chapter of tensions between the United States and China, with the international case serving as the focal point for Washington’s complaints against Beijing facilitating forced technology transfers, a charge China denies.

The case involved an allegedly illegal transfer of memory designs from Micron as part of a chip manufacturing deal between UMC and Jinjiang-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co (福建 晉華).

Following the ruling, Micron said he would continue to seek “full restitution” from UMC in a separate civil lawsuit, the statement said.

Last year, UMC pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco as part of a deal with U.S. prosecutors, who agreed to drop charges of economic espionage and conspiracy.

UMC instead admitted to stealing trade secrets and agreed to pay a fine of $ 60 million.

Evidence submitted as part of the guilty plea showed that all three workers – Steven Chen (陳正坤), Ho Chien-ting (何建廷) and Wang Yung-ming (王永銘) – were employed at Micron Taiwan before joining UMC.

Chen, who had been president of Micron Taiwan and senior vice president of UMC, negotiated an agreement with Fujian Jinhua to develop DRAM technology for the Chinese company.

In 2018, the US Department of Justice formally charged UMC and Fujian Jinhua, as well as Chen, Ho and Wang, with crimes related to a conspiracy to steal, transmit and possess trade secrets stolen from a US company.

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