Former Silicon Valley Engineer Convicted of Stealing Trade Secrets

Suibin Zhang Downloaded, Copied Trade Secrets from Marvell Semiconductor Inc.’s Secure Database


A federal judge convicted a former Silicon Valley engineer of five counts of theft of trade secrets, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

Suibin Zhang was found guilty Monday of three counts of theft and copying of trade secrets for downloading the trade secrets from a secure database, one count of duplication of trade secrets for loading those trade secrets onto a laptop provided by his new employer, and one count of possession of stolen trade secrets. The defendant was acquitted of three counts of computer fraud and one count of unauthorized transmission of a trade secret. The guilty verdict followed a more than two-week bench trial before United States District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte, which began October 24, 2011 and concluded November 9, 2011.

“The protection of intellectual property rights is of vital importance to the economic security of our region,” United States Attorney Melinda Haag said. “The investigation and prosecution of thefts of trade secrets remain a significant priority for this office.”

Evidence at trial showed that Zhang, 43, of Belmont, California, was employed as a project engineer at Netgear Inc., of San Jose, and had access to the secure database of Marvell Semiconductor Inc. by virtue of his position at Netgear. The evidence further showed that on March 8, 2005, Zhang had accepted a position at Marvell’s chief competitor, Broadcom Corporation, and that, beginning on March 9, 2005, and continuing to March 18, 2005, Zhang used his Netgear account to download and steal trade secret information found in dozens of documents, data sheets, hardware specifications, design guides, functional specifications, application notes, board designs, and other confidential and proprietary items from Marvell. The defendant then loaded the Marvell trade secrets onto a laptop issued by his new employer, Broadcom, on April 27, 2005 and was in possession of those stolen trade secrets on June 24, 2005 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at his home and at Broadcom.

The sentencing of Zhang is scheduled for 9 a.m. on August 27, 2012 before Judge Whyte in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832 is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if the court deems appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. Zhang has been released by the court on $500,000 bond.

Source: U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation