Exiting HTC designers probed for stealing design secrets
Five HTC employees including its chief industrial designer, a division head and a designer are being investigated by Taiwanese officials after being alleged of stealing trade secrets and planning to sell it to Chinese firms. AFP quoting China Daily newspaper reports that the authorities had conducted searches inside HTC’s R&D centres as well as the homes of the accused.
Engadget has identified the trio as Vice President of Product Design Thomas Chien, R&D director Wu Chien Hung and design team senior manager Justin Huang, who had sketched the HTC One. Chien and Hung have been reportedly taken into custody after HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang lodged a complaint with Taiwan’s Investigation Bureau that the trio were planning to set up a design company for mainland China and had already registered it under the name Xiaoyu. They were reportedly planning to resign after collecting their mid-year bonuses.
HTC alleged that they caught Chien downloading files related to the design of HTC’s upcoming Sense 6 and mailed it to external contacts. They were also accused of claiming over $330,000 from the company on falsified vouchers. This is related to the trio outsourcing some of the design of the HTC One to an external design house and then splitting the money among themselves.
The setback cannot come at a worst time for HTC, which has lost over 80 percent of its value in the last couple of years and its CEO Peter Chou is under fire and is being held responsible for the company’s decline.