It wasn't China who stole from Dutch chip maker, ASML chief says

ASML headquarters in Veldhoven
ASML headquarters in VeldhovenPhoto: A ansems/Wikimedia Commons

The suggestion that Dutch chip machine manufacturer ASML was "somehow victim of a national conspiracy is wrong", CEO Peter Wennink said in a statement about reports that Chinese spies stole trade secrets from the company. "The facts of the matter are that we were robbed by a handful of our own employees based in Silicon Valley, who had broken the law to enrich themselves."

On Thursday newspaper Financieele Dagblad reported that former Chinese employees of ASML caused hundreds of millions of euros worth of damage to the company by stealing trade secrets - source codes, software and pricing strategies - and passing them on the XTAL - a competitor for the Dutch company that is funded by the China and South Korea. The newspaper based this on a ruling by a court in California, that fined XTAL 223 million dollars. 

But ASML stressed in its statement that the Chinese government was not involved in this incident. According to the company, "these employees, with various nationalities," stole software for one of the ASML's products with the aim to create a competing product and sell it to XTAL, which was then an existing client of ASML. The damages awarded by the Californian court was based on "unjust enrichment" in connection with lost sales opportunities.

"We resent any suggestion that this event should have any implication for ASML conducting business in China", Wennink said. "Some of the individuals involved happened to be Chinese nationals, but individuals from other nations were also involved."


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