GM Seeks Stiff Sentence for Detroit-Area Couple That Stole Chevy Volt Trade Secrets to Sell to China (UPDATE)
This is one of those stories that hasn’t made headlines in quite some time now, but the details will be fresh in the minds of most.
A couple years back, General Motors discovered that a former employee and her husband were stealing trade secrets with hopes to sell the info to competitors in China. The trade secrets related to GM’s hybrid vehicle technology and loosely to the Chevy Volt. Du gained access to GM’s hybrid technology and began copying documents in late 2003. She later copied thousands of documents in 2005, days after receiving a severance offer from the automaker.
Those trade secrets were later discovered on seven computers owned by ex-GM engineer Shanshan Du and her husband, Yu Qin, according to prosecutors. It’s believed that none of the information ever found its way to China, but that doesn’t mean that GM is accepting of the wrongdoings committed.
Now, GM is seeking a stiff sentence for the two law-breakers who were convicted in court of stealing the automaker’s technology.
John Calabrese, GM vice-president for global vehicle engineering, stated:
“There is a clear and well-recognized need for the United States government, including its courts, to take aggressive steps to deter others from stealing the type of vital technology at issue in this matter.”
Du and Qin could face eight to 10 years in prison and Calabrese suggested that US District Judge Marianne Battani “impose the maximum allowable sentence,” but it seems unlikely that will happen.
Since the info never made its way to China, it’s likely Battani will go easy on the convicted felons. GM never suffered an actual loss, argues the defendant’s attorney and, therefore, suggest a more appropriate penalty is probation and confinement.
In the words of the defendant’s lawyer:
“The GM technology possessed by the defendants was never sold or offered for sale to any other entity. Therefore, no other entity ever made use of the technology to the detriment of GM”
But still, a theft occurred and GM argues that calls for a stiff punishment.
Whose side do you support?
UPDATE: Judge disagrees with GM. Issues sentence of 1 year and 1 day to Shanshan Du. Husband Yu Qin not sentenced yet.