The trial accusing a former GM engineer and her husband of stealing the automaker’s trade secrets related to hybrid technology for the purpose of self-profit has commenced this Monday.
Shanshan Du, a former GM employee, is being accused by the U.S. Government of copying private GM documents related to the motor control of hybrid vehicles. The government alleges that Du provided said documents to her husband, Yu Qin — who then used them to seek employment with Chinese automaker Chery. U.S. prosecutors say that according to GM, the stolen trade secrets are worth more than $40 million.
“This case is about theft as well as deceit,” said prosecutor Michael Martin during opening statements for the trial on Monday in federal court in Detroit. “The defendants are “partners in life, partners in business and partners in crime.”
Du and Qin were both indicted in the summer of 2010 on three counts of trade theft and wire fraud. Qin was separately charged with obstruction of justice due to the alleged shredding and subsequent dumping of the stolen documents in a dumpster. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The couple’s lawyers state that the documents at hand weren’t trade secrets at all and that they were “completely useless” for other companies.
“A lot of fear is going on in this case,” said Qin’s lawyer Frank Eaman. “This includes fear of Chinese people working in U.S. companies and planning ventures in China, as well as the defendants’ fear of the police”, he said.
The defense’s court documents state that the government withheld evidence about the case — thereby obstructing the couple’s right to a fair trial. According to the defense, the withheld evidence includes aspects of an FBI interview with a whiteness who pointed out that the documents were not secret and that “contrary to the allegations in the indictment, several items of software possessed by Du were necessary for her work,” said defense lawyers in an Oct. 15 filing.
The GM Authority Take
Straight up Bonnie and Clyde, eh? We kid, of course — and will stay on this one closely.
But as the case progresses, we have to wonder why GM is so concerned with its “trade secrets” as they relate to hybrid technology. Last we checked, the automaker was trailing the industry as it relates to hybrids — with only the mildly-working mild-hybrid system offering on the market… unless the documents in question are Volt/Voltec-related, that is.