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TSMC sues rival, alleging industrial espionage

Fab secrets filched, company claims

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TSMC, the world's largest chip foundry, has hit Chinese rival SMIC with a legal fight alleging trade secret theft and patent infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District of Northern California this past Friday, seeks an injunction against SMIC in the US and the payment of damages - how much it wants, the writ doesn't say.

SMIC has said it has yet to review the details of the lawsuit, but it did say it respects other companies' intellectual property rights.

TSMC claims its rival attempted to persuade employees to spill the beans on the company's technologies. It alleges SMIC tried to do the same thing with staff it had hired away from TSMC.

SMIC has certainly poached staff from Taiwanese foundries, EE Times notes, in order to grow its own skills-base. Claims that such staff have brought more with them than their individual chip-making expertise are not uncommon in the region. TSMC and its arch-rival, UMC, have both made such allegation about each other in the past. SMIC has hired staff from both companies. ®

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