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China Issues Ruling in First 5G Criminal Intellectual Property Law Case

The People’s Court of Nanshan District of Shenzhen recently issued a ruling believed to be the first 5G criminal intellectual property law case in China.   5G is the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones.  The Court held defendants Huang Mouyu and Wang Mou guilty of trade secret theft and sentenced them to three years in jail and a 150,000 RMB fine.  The defendants had stolen trade secrets valued at 4.3 million RMB related to a 5G antenna project named A8808.

The Court found that the defendants were employees of ZTE Corporation and both were experts in 5G.  The technical documents transferred by Wang to a competitor were identical to ZTE documents and were not known to the public. It was ascertained that ZTE Corporation adopted confidentiality measures including the the establishment of a confidentiality system and the signing of confidentiality agreements with employees. 

After trial, the Court held that the contents of the documents involved were ZTE ’s trade secrets. The defendants Huang Mouyu and Wang Mou removed the aforementioned trade secrets from ZTE ’s control during the research and development of a 5G project for a competitor, which constituted trade secret theft from ZTE. According to the circumstances of the case, it was determined that ZTE ’s losses due to the two defendants ’infringement of trade secrets were 4.3 million RMB.

Principal, and Director of the China Intellectual Property Practice

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