The lithography software theft happened in Silicon Valley of few years ago. It was revealed in the documentation of a lawsuit that ASML won in November 2018 and was then reported by Dutch business daily Financieele Dagblad (see ASML was hit by Chinese espionage).
XTAL Inc. and its parent Dongfang Jingyuan Electronics Ltd., were founded in 2014 by two former ASML employees who worked with two former colleagues to steal confidential information. Financieele Dagblad also made the point that all six former employees that were involved in the theft had Chinese names and that Dongfang Jingyuan also had connections to the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.
"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," said Peter Wennink, CEO of ASML, in a statement.
ASML said that those involved were of various nationalities and stole software for mask optimization with the aim of creating a competing product and selling it to an existing ASML customer in South Korea. The funding for XTAL Inc. originated in South Korea and China, ASML added.
"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," said Wennink.
Wennink continued: "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."
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