Thu, Jul 28, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Prosecutors charge five with nanotechnology theft

NANOPOWDER:Prosecutors said former employees of a nanotech company cost the firm NT$2.6bn by stealing the technology and starting a firm based in China

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

An officer of the National Police Agency’s Second Special Police Corps in Tainan yesterday announces that police have cracked an industrial espionage case involving Hsin Fang Nano Technology Co.

Photo: Huang Chien-hua, Taipei Times

Judicial authorities yesterday said that they have charged five men who allegedly stole intellectual property from a Tainan nanotechnology company and set up competing nanotechnology plants in China with breaching the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法).

The Second Special Police Corp, under the National Police Agency, announced details of the investigation yesterday, saying it is the first investigation and prosecution under the act since it was implemented in 2013.

Police said that they detained three former Hsin Fang Nano Technology Co (新芳奈米科技) employees, including a former plant manager surnamed Chen (陳) and a production section chief surnamed Yu (尤), along with two other business associates.

“The estimated financial loss to our company is about NT$2.6 billion [US$81.08 million]. We urge the government to crack down on intellectual property theft against Taiwanese businesses,” chairman Chang Jen-hung (張仁鴻) said.

Hsin Fang is a grinding mill machine manufacturer, which are used to produce ultra-fine nanopowders for use in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, consumer electronics, health food, anti-radiation coating, military weapons and in other industrial applications.

Company officials said their nanopowder grinding mill, which incorporates an innovative “dry cryo-nanonization grinding system,” received a top award at a nanotechnology exhibition in Tokyo in 2012, and honors at other industry fairs in Taiwan and other countries.

The investigation in 2014 followed reports that Chen, Yu and other former employees, backed by business associates, started a new company in Yunlin County — Unicat Nano Advanced Materials & Devices Technology Co (環美凱特).

Unicat Nano later moved to Chongqing, China, setting up nanotechnology businesses that, according to investigators, were based on intellectual property stolen from Hsin Fang by Chen, Yu and other former employees.

The Public Security Police Brigade investigation unit last year launched raids to gather evidence at offices, company plants and residences in Yunlin, Tainan and New Taipei City, where they took in suspects for questioning and confiscated computers, files and powder mill machines.

Although the former Hsin Fang employees denied the accusations, prosecutors said they have gathered sufficient evidence and announced the charges against the suspects.

Chang said Hsin Fang’s 15 years of investment in research and development has been wasted because of the theft.

“The government must do something about it, because intellectual property theft will do grave damage to Taiwan’s technology industries,” he said.

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