Motorola engineer gets 4 years for trade secrets theft

Tough ruling a message to trade secret thieves.
  • Liam Tung (CSO Online)
  • 30 August, 2012 09:42

A former Motorola employee arrested before boarding a flight to China has been sentenced to four years prison for stealing the company’s confidential technical designs.

Chinese-born American software engineer Ms Hanjuan Jin was sentenced Wednesday after being found guilty in February of stealing Motorola’s trade secrets, according to Associated Press.

She escaped the more serious charge of ‘espionage’ on behalf of a foreign government or entity.

Jin was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on 28 February 2007 carrying over 1000 confidential Motorola documents bound for China on a one-way ticket just days after becoming a naturalised US citizen.

The Justice Department claimed it had evidence Jin intended to give the documents to the Chinese military, however US District Judge Ruben Castillo ruled that although she had conducted a “purposeful raid” the evidence was insufficient to prove she had stolen the documents on behalf of another government.

The documents related to the charge of ‘espionage’ concerned designs for a walkie-talkie feature on a cell phone while her connection to the Chinese military stemmed Jin's alleged employment with Sun Kaisens -- a Chinese telecommunications company that contracts to the Chinese military -- prior to resigning from Motorola.

According to a statement from the FBI:

“... Jin began working for Motorola in 1998 and took a medical leave of absence in February 2006. While on sick leave in 2006 and secretly from Motorola, Jin pursued employment in China with Sun Kaisens, the Chinese telecommunications company that developed products for the Chinese military. Between November 2006 and February 2007, Jin returned to China and worked for Sun Kaisens on projects for the Chinese military. During this same period of time, she was given classified Chinese military documents by Sun Kaisens to review in order to better assist with the Chinese military projects. After receiving these documents, Jin agreed to review the documents and provide assistance.

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