ASML falls victim to Chinese corporate espionage

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch ASML was the victim of Chinese corporate espionage a few years ago, but said the information stolen was not a blueprint for the lithography machines that have made it a world leader in semiconductor equipment.

ASML Holding logo is seen at company’s headquarters in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Januari 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

ASML said the perpetrators took “large files” on memory sticks from its Silicon Valley software subsidiary that develops software for machine optimization. It said it had since taken action to make such theft much more difficult.

The Dutch company welcomed a Sino-European agreement earlier this week, which promised that Beijing would no longer force foreign companies to share sensitive know-how when operating in China.

“Can we prudently do business in China? Yes of course. This was a rotten apple,” ASML said in a statement.

ASML’s sales to China more than doubled to 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) in 2018 as Beijing drives growth of its domestic semiconductor industry, now accounting for about a sixth of ASML’s total sales.

The company did not directly answer questions as to whether Chinese employees and the Chinese government were involved, as alleged by Dutch business daily Financieele Dagblad, which first