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Industrial espionage case ends with aquittal

Via executives off the hook

An industrial espionage case against two top executives and an engineer from Via ended yesterday after judges in Taiwan found the defendants not guilty.

The case, which began in late 2003, stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed by Taiwan's D-Link over alleged theft of chip-testing simulation software. The Taipei District Prosecutors Office charged Via chairwoman Cher Wang and her husband, President Wenchi Chen, with colluding to steal the software by sending engineer Jeffrey Chang to work at D-Link to obtain the coding.

D-Link officials found the coding on a public server used by Via customers that Via argued could have been accessed and uploaded by anyone. At the time, Via's Chen called the case a "misunderstanding".

Although Via and D-Link settled the civil side of the case out of court in August, 2004, prosecutors continued the criminal proceedings. The two companies never revealed the terms of their settlement.

At the heart of the case against Via was proof that Chang, who worked at Via for over five years, continued to receive his regular salary from Via for three months after leaving the company and going to work for D-Link. He worked for D-Link for about two years before returning to work for a Via subsidiary, Via Networking, as a senior consultant.

Via officials blamed an administrative error for the salary payments.

Taipei prosecutors officially charged the three Via officials with breach of copyright, breach of faith, and colluding to steal business secrets. Wang and Chen faced up to four years in prison over the charges, while Chang could have spent three years in prison had he been found guilty.

A panel of judges found the trio not guilty.

In a statement today, Via applauded the verdict, saying the ruling affirmed the impartiality of the justice system in Taiwan. The company also thanked the court.


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