Taiwanese prosecutors on Friday indicted a chief designer and five
employees at leading smartphone maker HTC for allegedly leaking crucial
trade secrets to China and breach of trust.
Chien Chih-lin, vice
president of product design, was charged with leaking information
relating to "highly valuable" designs for a yet-to-be-launched
smartphone interface to unidentified individuals in Beijing in an
attempt to set up a joint new company in China, prosecutors said.
was also charged with breach of trust for allegedly taking kickbacks
and falsifying expenses totalling around Tw$33.56 million ($1.12
million) from suppliers, the Taipei district prosecutors' office said in
Prosecutors requested a heavy sentence for Chien on
the grounds that he has caused serious damages to HTC and has shown no
remorse for his actions, the statement said. Both offences carry a
maximum 10-year jail term.
Five of Chien's colleagues at product
design and manufacturing design divisions were also charged for their
alleged involvement in the case.
In August, investigators searched
HTC's research and development centre as well as the suspects' offices
and homes after the company accused them of stealing the interface
technology and alerted the authorities.
"The company expects
employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and
ethics. Protecting the company's proprietary and intellectual
properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of
every employee," HTC said in a statement.
As well as selling its own smartphones, HTC makes handsets for a number of leading US companies and supplies Google's Nexus One.
the third quarter, HTC swung to its first net loss of $101 million
since listing in 2002, as it struggles to increase its foothold in the
highly competitive smartphone market.