While American Superconductor’s data logs and stores were helpful in convicting Sinovel Wind Group of IP theft, a data loss prevention strategy could have identified the thieves’ activities sooner.
n a case of international intrigue — which covered the span of more than six years — Sinovel Wind Group, a manufacturer and exporter of wind turbines, and three of its employees have been convicted of trade secret theft following a 12-day jury trial in Wisconsin.
The path to justice for the victimized company, American Superconductor (AMSC), was long by any measure and damaging. The value of the technology stolen is estimated to be more than $800 million. In addition, AMSC lost more than $1 billion in shareholder equity.
Sinovel thieving backstory
In 2011, Wisconsin-based, AMSC filed both criminal and civil complaints against Sinovel. Sinovel had apparently breached the partnership agreement, and AMSC was unhappy because their intellectual property (IP) surrounding wind turbines had been taken and used to improve the Chinese electric grid.
Moving forward to 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a criminal complaint against Sinovel for its role in attempting to “convert a trade secret that is related to a product that is used and intended for use in interstate and foreign commerce,” specifically the source code relevant to AMSC’s technology. This complaint was quicky followed by an indictment that showed Sinovel still owed AMSC $100 million for software, products and services and had contracted for an additional $700 million of business.
Individuals involved in the IP theft
Two Sinovel employees and one person employed by AMSC Windtec GmbH were convicted:
Su Liying — Deputy director of Sinovel’s Research and Development. Resident in China, Chinese national.
Zhao Haichun — Technology manager for Sinovel. Resident in China, Chinese national.
Dejan Karabasevic (aka Dan Karabasevic) — A Servian national who was employed by AMSC Windtec GmbH, located in Klagenfurt, Austria. AMSC Windtec is a wholly-owned AMSC subsidiary. Karabasevic submitted his resignation in March 2011, but he retained access to AMSC Windtec’s computer network into May 2011, with his final day within AMSC Windtec being June 30, 2011.