Chinese Wind Company Charged With Corporate Espionage

U.S. Justice Department goes after Chinese turbine maker

1 min read
Chinese Wind Company Charged With Corporate Espionage

The Chinese wind power company Sinovel will be keeping its legal team busy. In addition to the intellectual property charges against the company in Chinese courts, which Spectrumcovered last year, the company now faces criminal charges of corporate espionage brought by the U.S. Justice Department. 

In the new charges, prosecutors allege that Sinovel stole trade secrets from the Massachusetts-based company AMSC (formerly American Superconductor Corp.), which sells software and systems to control wind turbines. According to the indictment, AMSC's alleged losses exceed $800 million.  

The prosecution is part of efforts undertaken by the Justice Department's IP Task Force, which was recently created to "safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work."

The various cases against Sinovel have attracted widespread attention, as the Wall Street Journal notes:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, while in his capacity as the senior senator from Massachusetts last year, called the AMSC-Sinovel dispute "a mugging in broad daylight and a real test of China's commitment to the rule of law."

Sinovel used to be AMSC's biggest customer, accounting for 70 percent of the company's revenues. But in March 2011 Sinovel rejected a shipment of wind turbine components, and severed business relations. A former AMSC employee has already pled guilty in an Austrian court to stealing trade secrets, but Sinovel has denied any wrongdoing.  

Image: Stephan van Es

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less