Ye and Zhong were alleged to have obtained trade secrets, including designs for super integrated circuit chips from a variety of Silicon Valley firms through a front company, Supervision, Inc. a/k/a Hangzhou Zhongtian Microsystems Company Ltd. The two posed as legitimate businessmen interested in creating a joint venture to produce and sell microprocessors in China. The two attempted to recruit others to work for Supervision, claiming that the Chinese government would be backing the company. They were arrested on November 23, 2001 at San Francisco International Airport on an aircraft bound for China. A search of their luggage turned up trade secrets belonging to Transmeta and Sun. Subsequent searches of Ye and Zhong’s homes turned up trade secrets belonging to Sun, NEC, and Trident. Both men were charged with economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets and foreign transportation of stolen property in 2001. The two pled guilty to two counts each of economic espionage in December, 2006, and were sentenced to a year in prison in November, 2008.
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