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Chip company says Chinese employee stole data, second breach of its kind in 2 years

CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

A major chip manufacturer says that a former employee in China has stolen information about its technology, marking the second time the company has accused China of stealing its intellectual property since 2021.

Dutch chip maker ASML, which is publicly traded at over $675 per share, is one of the most important firms in the global supply chain of microchips, according to the BBC, making machines that produce some of the world's most advanced semiconductors.

ASML says a former employee stationed in China misappropriated data from the company, but the company does not believe that the misappropriation is "material to [its] business."

"We have experienced unauthorised misappropriation of data relating to proprietary technology by a (now) former employee in China," ASML said in its 2022 annual report.

The company did not name the employee, nor did it detail what type of data was stolen or any regulations that were violated.

"As a result of the security incident, certain export control regulations may have been violated. We are implementing additional remedial measures in light of this incident," the company said.

In 2021, the company also claimed that a Chinese company was "actively marketing products in China that could potentially infringe on ASML's [intellectual property] rights."

The accused Chinese firm, DongFang JingYuan Electron, is a Beijing-based company that focuses on "integrated circuit production management," according to its website.

DongFang JingYuan Electron denied the allegations, calling them "inconsistent with the facts."

"We reserve the right to take any other legal actions against the relevant false information," it added.

ASML operates lithography machines to use lasers to print miniscule patterns on silicon as part of the manufacturing process of microchips and has more than tripled its stock in the last five years.

The Netherlands reportedly stopped the company from selling its most advanced machinery to China in 2019.

The manufacturer reported over $22.6 billion in net sales for 2022, with its annual report also boasted about the company's Environmental Social Governance (ESG) strategy.

"Our material environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics represent our most significant impacts on the economy, environment and people, and aim to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals," the report reads.

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