Liming Li, 64, of Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, California, United States previously worked for two companies in California in various engineering, management and software development roles. Both companies derive significant value from the secrecy of their proprietary software source code and take extensive steps to protect the source code from discovery by competitors.
Li worked for the first company from 1996 to 2018. In 2018, he and his wife established their own business JSL Innovations, which was based out of their residence in Rancho Cucamonga.
From 2018 to November 2019, Li worked for another company in California. After the company terminated him, company security discovered that he was using his company-issued laptop to attempt to download files from the company’s root directory onto his personal external hard drive.
There was also a folder labeled “ChinaGovernment”, which contained numerous documents showing Li’s efforts to participate in China’s Thousand Talents Program. It revealed that Li was trying to use JSL Innovations to provide services and technology to Chinese business and government entities related to the export-controlled and trade secret technology that he took from his former employers in California.
In March 2020, Li entered into an agreement with a manufacturing company based in China to serve as its chief technology officer. His agreement with this employer required him to spend at least six months per year in the Asian country.
In September 2020, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents executed a search warrant at Li’s residence in Rancho Cucamonga and found numerous digital devices containing millions of files belonging to the two Californian companies he previously worked for and the source code for those companies’ proprietary software. The source code files belonged to these companies, which developed them, but some of the files had been moved into folders labeled “JSL” or “JSL Projects.”
On May 6, 2023, Li arrived at the Ontario International Airport in Ontario, San Bernardino County on a flight from Taiwan and was arrested at the airport. He has been in federal custody since the arrest.
On May 22, 2023, Li will attend a detention hearing. He was charged with theft of trade secrets.
Categories: Asia, China, crimes, NEWS, North America, Social Issues, Taiwan, United States
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