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Two convicted on charges of GM trade secrets theft

Keywords: Tags  General Motors, hybrid vehicle technology, research and development, trade secrets, Yu Qin, Shanshan Du, federal court, indictment prison

CHICAGO — A former employee of General Motors Co. and her husband have been convicted of allegedly possessing trade secrets about the engineering of hybrid vehicles and conspiring to use them to benefit their own company.

Engineer Shanshan Du and her husband, Yu Qin, were convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in eastern Michigan. The judge ordered their property in Troy, Mich., be forfeited to the court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had handed down a seven-count indictment against the couple July 22, and they were arrested soon thereafter.

According to the charges, the couple conspired to possess trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles between December 2003 and May 2006, knowing the information had been stolen, converted or obtained without authorization.

While employed at Detroit-based GM, Du allegedly provided secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband, Qin, for his benefit and for the benefit of Millennium Technology International Inc. (MTI), which the couple owned and operated.

About five days after Du was offered a severance agreement by GM in January 2005, she allegedly copied 16,000 proprietary company documents, including trade secret documents, to an external computer hard drive used for MTI business.

A few months later, Qin launched a business venture to provide hybrid vehicle technology to Wuhu, China-based Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., a competitor of GM.

GM, which has been developing and manufacturing hybrid vehicles for more than a decade, estimated the value of the stolen documents at more than $40 million.

Qin and Du face up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts related to charges of stealing trade secrets. Yu faces an additional maximum term of 30 years on each of three wire-fraud counts and up to 20 years on an obstruction-of-justice count.

The court will set a sentencing date in February.

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