Rondom de kantoren van ASML in Veldhoven wonen duizenden expats. Foto © EZ

In a reaction to this morning’s articles on Chinese industrial espionage, ASML has announced that this is not a conspiracy by a government. According to ASML, the employees who stole the company’s secrets also happen to include Chinese citizens. The company also claims to have made more efforts to protect company property in recent years.

“The suggestion that we were somehow victim of a national conspiracy is wrong. The facts of the matter are that we were robbed by a handful of our own employees based in Silicon Valley, who had broken the law to enrich themselves. All of this occurred several years ago. We found this out by ourselves and immediately sought legal action in public court in 2016. This was reported on in several publications after our victory in November 2018,” said ASML President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink.

“We resent any suggestion that this event should have any implication for ASML conducting business in China. Some of the individuals happened to be Chinese nationals, but individuals from other nations were also involved. We do protect our proprietary knowledge carefully and are very sensitive to information security. We believe we can serve all our customers, including our Chinese customers, and help them build their businesses. We are encouraged by the recent constructive talks and agreements between the European Union and China that China will step up its efforts to respect and protect corporate intellectual property of non-Chinese companies, including effective enforcement actions. We will be even more encouraged when we see these materialize in Chinese law and jurisprudence,” Wennink said.

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    According to ASML, the employees have stolen software for mask optimization, a specific small part of ASML’s broad product and service portfolio. The goal was to create a competitive product and sell it to an existing ASML customer in South Korea. The financing of this company XTAL would come from South Korea and China. The compensation that ASML was to receive for this was USD 223 million, but according to the company it is unclear to what extent this damage could be recovered from the now bankrupt company XTAL.

    This reaction from ASML comes after a report from the Financieele Dagblad earlier today, which stated that Chinese spies have stolen trade secrets from ASML in order to support their own competitor, XTAL.

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    Author profile picture Frans van Beveren leads IO on a daily basis. He is fascinated by everything related to technical progress, innovation, sustainability, and industrial design.