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Semiconductor company and owner indicted for theft of trade secrets
Haoyang Yu, a Chinese born, naturalized U.S. citizen living in Lexington, Massachusetts, was arrested recently in connection with stealing proprietary information from his former employer, Analog Devices Inc. (ADI).
The company Tricon MMIC LLC, which Yu and his wife started, was also charged, according to a press release distributed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts. Following his arrest, Yu was indicted on four counts of theft of trade secrets; four counts of copying, uploading, downloading, and attempted copying, uploading, and downloading of a trade secret; four counts of possession and attempted possession of a trade secret; and three counts of smuggling. Tricon MMIC LLC was also indicted on three counts of smuggling. In the official press release, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said, “Yu is charged with a massive theft of proprietary trade secret information from his former employer for the purpose of setting up his own company and marketing their products as his own. Today’s charge should make it clear that combatting the theft of trade secrets from American businesses is one of my office’s top priorities.” “As alleged, Mr. Yu stole trade secrets from his employer for his own financial gain,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “We are deeply concerned about American innovation ending up in the wrong hands, and the FBI is committed to investigating rogue actors and foreign nations who steal our trade secrets, technology, and proprietary information for military or economic gain. While we all welcome fair competition, we cannot and will not tolerate stealing and cheating. It’s illegal, unethical, and unfair, and this type of conduct hurts American businesses, jobs, and consumers, and in many instances, jeopardizes our national security.” According to the charging document, Yu was born in Harbin, China, and first came to the United States in 2002 on a student visa. He became a lawful permanent resident in June 2009, and a naturalized U.S. citizen in March 2017. In July 2014, Yu started working at ADI as a principal design engineer. As alleged in the indictment, Yu worked for ADI designing and developing parts of monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), which are used in radio, cellular, and satellite communications as well as defense and aerospace applications. As a result of his work, Yu had access to data and information relating to the present and future product designs, schematics, manufacturing files and testing procedures. It is alleged that, while working for ADI, Yu downloaded hundreds of highly confidential schematic design files and modeling files that belonged to ADI and copied portions of those files into spreadsheets which he uploaded to his personal Google drive account. The files Yu allegedly stole from ADI were worth millions of dollars. In March 2017, approximately five months before he resigned from ADI, Yu and his wife established Tricon MMIC LLC, which according to its website, “specializes in wide band MMIC amplifiers,” and serves customers in “defense and aerospace, test and instrumentation, [and] satellite communications.” Approximately four months later, Yu resigned from ADI and signed an agreement affirming that he had surrendered all proprietary information or data. Nevertheless, in December 2018, Yu allegedly had propriety ADI files in his possession. Furthermore, since creating Tricon in March 2017, Yu marketed and sold approximately 20 ADI designs as his own, and even used the same semiconductor fabrication plant as ADI. Yu used the Tricon website to target ADI customers, claiming that Tricon could better serve customers because ADI “has hit many customers by sudden announcements of obsolete parts.” For each purported obsolete part, Tricon listed a replacement part on its website. These replacement parts contained specifications identical to or substantially similar to ADI. It is alleged that since leaving ADI, from August 2017 to June 2019, Yu has been working at a cleared defense contractor while simultaneously operating Tricon and selling parts that are identical to, or substantially similar, to ADI products and which incorporate ADI’s stolen trade secrets. Yu has also allegedly used Tricon to illegally export several parts to Spain by concealing both his name and the export control classification number of the parts being exported on the shipping documents. ADI, the named victim of the Yu’s theft of trade secrets, has been cooperating with the government throughout this investigation.
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