ASML, one of the most significant computer chip equipment manufacturers in the world, has accused a former employee in China of stealing information about its technology. The Dutch firm has reported the breach to authorities in the Netherlands and the US, but claims that the data stolen is not material to its business. ASML produces machines that produce the world’s most advanced chips and is an essential player in the global microchip supply chain.
The theft of proprietary technology is a serious matter, and ASML is implementing additional remedial measures to prevent future breaches. The company has not named the former employee or provided any details on which export control regulations may have been violated. It is not the first time that ASML has linked an intellectual property (IP) breach to China. In its 2021 annual report, the firm claimed that Chinese semiconductor equipment and software maker, DongFang JingYuan Electron, was actively marketing products in China that could potentially infringe on ASML’s IP rights. DongFang JingYuan Electron has denied the allegations, stating that they are “inconsistent with the facts.”
The US-China tech conflict is intensifying, with major companies in the semiconductor industry facing export control restrictions on exports to China. In October, the US government announced that it would require licenses for companies exporting chips to China using US tools or software, no matter where they are made in the world. The US has been pushing the Netherlands and Japan to adopt similar restrictions.
Since 2019, the Dutch government has stopped ASML from selling its most advanced lithography machines to China. Lithography machines use lasers to print minuscule patterns on silicon as part of the manufacturing process of microchips.
In conclusion, the theft of ASML’s proprietary technology by a former employee in China underscores the ongoing tensions between the US and China regarding the tech industry. As the two superpowers continue to jockey for dominance in this critical sector, the stakes for both sides could not be higher. It remains to be seen how this latest incident will impact the US-China relationship and the global microchip supply chain.