Trial involving Chinese wind energy firm Sinovel begins in US
In time, events in Courtroom 260 at the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin could have significant ramifications.
A trial has begun in the Wisconsin state capital of Madison which observers consider could be a test case for future intellectual-property battles between the US and China.
Prosecutors allege that Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group stole software from US company American Superconductor Corp (AMSC).
The result could lead to billions of dollars of fines for Sinovel, which denies any wrongdoing.
It comes after the Trump administration moved to take a harder line on intellectual property theft.
The indictment claims the theft cost AMSC more than 800 million US dollars, caused its stock to plunge 40 percent overnight and led to hundreds of layoffs.
The case stems back to 2011, when Sinovel stopped accepting deliveries of electrical control systems for its turbines from AMSC, claiming the technology didn’t comply with new Chinese power grid requirements.
The day began with the swearing in of a 15-person jury. That process took up the best part of the day.
The jurors then heard opening statements. Prosecutors claimed Sinovel Wind Group orchestrated the theft of the source code that is key to operating components of wind turbines.
Assistant US Attorney Timothy O’Shea told the court that the code was stolen at Sinovel’s behest by an alleged disgruntled Serbian engineer working for an Austrian subsidiary of AMSC.
Sinovel is charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets and wire fraud. If found guilty, Sinovel faces fines of 1.6 billion US dollars on each of the three counts.
But the lawyer representing Sinovel, Jeffrey Tsai, told the jury that the disgruntled engineer, Dejan Karabasevic, worked alone and for himself when he downloaded the source code.