ASML is concerned that a Chinese company is using stolen intellectual property to develop competing yield enhancing products, CFO Roger Dassen told Het Financieele Dagblad (link in Dutch). The Veldhoven-based equipment maker has voiced its concerns to the Chinese government but says it’s too early to go to court.
The company in question is called Dongfang Jingyuan, which is working on metrology and yield optimization solutions for the semiconductor industry. A US subsidiary of Dongfang Jingyuan, XTAL, was ordered by a Californian court to pay ASML 845 million dollars in damages for stealing intellectual property from ASML’s subsidiary Brion. By that time XTAL was already in bankruptcy. The founder of both XTAL and Dongfang, former ASML Brion employee Zongchang Yu, evaded criminal prosecution by fleeing the US.
According to ASML, the subject matter of the theft was a legacy product, which was already developed and commercialized by Brion before ASML acquired the Californian company in 2007. The software product currently represents less than 0.5 percent of ASML’s overall revenue and has no relation to the company’s core DUV and EUV scanner technologies.
ASML is nonetheless irked that while XTAL has been neutralized, Dongfang Jingyuan might still be using its IP unimpeded in China. Right now, however, there’s no proof of that, since the company has yet to sell any product containing the stolen secrets.