A group of senior designers working for Taiwanese technology company HTC have been arrested in the Asian nation on account of claims that they have performed fraudulent activity, including the stealing trade secrets.
The accusations are geared primarily toward HTC’s ‘vice-president of product design’ Thomas Chien, ‘research & development director’ Wu Chien Hung, and Justin Huang, a ‘design team senior manager’ responsible for conceiving the HTC One being amongst a group of five arrested. Three of that group including Huang were later released on bail, though Chien and Hung remain in custody.
All five, though, have been through police questioning, after they were allegedly involved in theft of trade secrets, and ‘fraudulent expense claims’, with authorities being tipped off by HTC’s chairwoman Cher Wang, after fellow employees caught Chien downloading ‘Sense 6.0 UI design’ files for their new interface, before e-mailing them to ‘external contacts’.
The company’s head offices in New Taipei City were raided by police under the investigative process, where forces have led to the conclusion and accusation that the design team in question were planning to use the stolen information to form a ‘rival design company’ targeted towards China’s technology market, with intent to resign from HTC once they had received mid-year bonuses. A further accusation directed towards the designers is that whilst implementing the HTC One’s ‘metal chassis’, they contacted an external company to invoice them for part of the process and split the proceeds generated by the fake payment towards them.
A statement from HTC on the matter read: “The company expects employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and ethics. Protecting the company’s proprietary and intellectual properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of every employee. The company does not condone any violation. As this matter is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities, we therefore refrain from further comments.”
Having recently suffered from a decline in profits and the resignation of a number of key employees, this controversy is the last thing that HTC will have wanted, but will the company be able to pull through regardless of the supposed actions of some of their workforce?