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Broadcom engineer indicted on alleged theft of trade secrets

Posted by iNext - 2005-12-25

SAN FRANCISCO — An engineer has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California for allegedly committing theft and unauthorized downloading of trade secrets.

Suibin Zhang, 37, was charged Wednesday (Dec. 21) by a federal grand jury in San Jose, Calif. with nine counts alleging computer fraud, theft and unauthorized downloading of trade secrets, and the unauthorized copying, transmission and possession of trade secrets, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment alleges that Zhang, a former employee of Netgear Inc., committed computer fraud by downloading dozens of proprietary files from Marvell Semiconductor Inc.'s Extranet in May after accepting a position with Marvell's competitor, Broadband Corp. Zhang had access to Marvell's Extranet because Netgear is a Marvell customer, the indictment alleges, and Zhang was bound by a non-disclosure agreement and other restrictions on the information it contained.

Two days after beginning work at Broadcom in April, Zhang allegedly loaded many of the files containing Marvell’s trade secrets onto a laptop computer he had been issued by Broadcom, according to the indictment. Zhang allegedly later emailed certain Marvell trade secrets to other Broadcom employees in June, the indictment said.

Zhang entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday and has been released on a $500,000 bond, according to Christopher Sonderby, head of the U.S. Attorney unit prosecuting the case. Zhang is next scheduled to appear in court next month before U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte.

Zhang faces three counts of computer fraud, three counts of theft, misappropriation and unauthorized downloading of trade secrets, two counts of unauthorized copying and transmission of trade secrets and one count of unauthorized possession of stolen trade secrets.

If convicted on each count, Zhang could face a maximum penalty of 75 years in prison and a fine of more than $2 million.

The investigation was overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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