Major global chip supplier alleges employee stole trade secrets
A Chinese ex-employee of ASML Holding NVa key cog in the global semiconductor industry, stole data from a computer system which the company uses to store technical information about its machinery.
The violation was produced in a repository that includes details of the lithography systems critical to producing some of the world’s most advanced chips.said people with knowledge of the situation.
It was the first indication of the nature of the robbery revealed early Wednesday by ASML, which said it a former worker in China had stolen confidential information.but did not elaborate on the type of data stolen. ASML declined to comment beyond the statement it issued, in which it said it did not believe the theft was material to its business.
The leak affected technology information, but not hardwareand was carried out by a male employee over the past two months, according to another person familiar with the details. U.S. authorities have already been informedaccording to this person, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.
It is about the second violation of this type linked to China by ASML. in less than a year and comes at a time when the U.S. is pressuring other countries, including the Netherlands, to help prevent the advancement of China’s chip manufacturing capacity..
Tensions are already high after an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew over U.S. airspace before being shot down. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a trip to Beijing, but was considering a meeting this week in Germany with China’s chief diplomat, according to people familiar with the matter.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, said he was unaware of ASML’s allegation that a former Chinese employee had misappropriated data.
The Dutch technology company, which makes machines needed to produce high-end chips used in everything from electric vehicles to military equipment, has initiated an internal investigation and has tightened security controls. following the discovery of the most recent incident.
Peter Wennink, CEO of ASML, has warned that. China will eventually develop its own domestic alternatives if it cannot buy from the West. China is ASML’s third largest market, behind Taiwan and South Korea. ASML and its competitors sell their equipment to chipmakers such as Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. that supply companies such as Apple Inc. and Nvidia Corp.
ASML has previously accused Dongfang Jingyuan Electron Ltd. of obtaining technology from ASML and transferring it to China. That technology was obtained in a sometimes audacious manner: an engineer was accused of stealing 2 million lines of source code of critical ASML software. and sharing some of it with employees of Dongfang and a related company in the U.S., according to transcripts of the proceedings.