The Sinovel Wind Group, a Chinese manufacturer and exporter of wind turbines, must pay the maximum fine for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a US company previously known as American Superconductor Inc., the Department of Justice announced last week.
Sinovel had agreed to purchase $800 million in products and services from AMSC prior to the March 2011 theft. Instead of completing the sale, it launched an operation to steal proprietary AMSC software designed to regulate electricity flow from wind turbines to electrical grids. Evidence indicates Sinovel worked with AMSC Windtec Gmbh, a subsidiary of AMSC, to get hold of copyrighted information and trade secrets.
The Chinese company then used stolen intellectual property to build its own turbines instead of paying AMSC $800 million. Its actions cost AMSC more than $1 billion in shareholder equity and nearly 700 jobs – more than half its global workforce, the DoJ reports.
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