• Oct 16th 2009 at 10:00AM
  • 31
Former Ford engineer Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yu, was arrested Wednesday at the Chicago O'Hare airport and indicted on suspicion of stealing trade secrets from his former employer. Yu, who worked at Ford Motor Company from 1997 to 2007, is being charged with downloading over 4,000 sensitive documents to an external hard drive before leaving the automaker for an opportunity with another U.S. company's Chinese operations. Yu was nabbed while arriving in the U.S. from China where he was stationed.
The Free Press is reporting that Yu is being charged with stealing "system design specifications connected to engine and transmission mounting systems; outside rear view windows; sliding doors; steering wheel assembly; interior trim; wipers and washers systems; front/rear side door; instrument panel and console systems; sound and heat control and electric power systems."

Those sound like some serious charges, and if Yu is convicted he can do some even more serious time behind bars. Each count of the theft of trade secrets carries a 10 year term in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Yu is also charged with unauthorized access of a protected computer, which carries a five year term in the clink and a $250,000 fine. Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena told the Free Press that the Bureau takes the trade secrets of the auto industry very seriously, adding that "theft of trade secrets is a threat to national security and investigating allegations involving theft of trade secrets is a priority for the FBI."

Ford is understandably being silent right now in light of the seriousness of what's going on, and at this point we have no idea if any of Ford's important information fell into the hands of the wrong people. Since Yu is just now being brought to justice, it will likely be some time before all the details materialize. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Yu shopped the illegal data and if there were any takers.

[Source: Free Press | Photo: U.S. Marshals Service]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I laughed a little at the part where Ford is pissed at someone stealing their wiper system design.
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 - But in all fairness, I do believe every car on the market has the stolen wipers!


        Two posts in a row of yours are pure crap! You need to get off your Ford Hating game and Drive One!

        And no, I'm not going to say "Into a wall". That would wreck a perfectly good car! And you'd probably live with all the 5 star safety features. And heck, with all that Ford Quality that not even Honda or Toyota beat mixed with all sorts of class leading options like blind spot sensors, backup sensors, braking assists, you'd probably not even crash it!

        Oh, one more thing... Hating Ford is soo 1998... Get with the times bro.. Ford Rocks A to X... (they still have a couple cars to roll out (i.e. Fiesta and the Other one). So Y and Z are reserved for that time... ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Whoah wait.

      Tallied it up: At least 135 years in prison for stealing trade secrets on vehicle designs that will be obsolete in 15 years (as auto engineering move on). THAT'S LIKE PIRATING NETSCAPE!

      Since when is the government interested in shutting down trade secrets from reaching China?

      -Seems to me; This guy is guilty of nothing more than non-Federally-approved information transactions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      gee. US secrets going to China... never heard of that before... you don't say!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is his username Matt?
        • 5 Years Ago
        or Brian .. perhaps .. awright, stopping the bitching now ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      ...and at this point we have no idea if any of Ford's important information fell into the hands of the wrong people...

      Toyota or Hyundai and Kia???
      • 5 Years Ago
      We have to take news/cases like this with a pinch of salt. The guy was a Ford employee for 10 years. That's a very long time. How many secrets can he steal, that he doesn't already have as experience and knowledge?

        • 5 Years Ago
        all it says is that he worked there for 10 years, not in what capacity. For all we know, he was a sharepoint admin or something not directly related to design work. The charges include unauthorized access to a protected computer, so he obviously wasn't supposed to be in whatever system he got the data. We'll just have to see what shakes out in the details.

        (And i'll bet a dollar that every computer user in ford is going to stay away from facebook and their fantasy football league for at least a little while :) )
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not to underestimate the severity and consequence of stealing trade secrets, but the "economics" of stealing trade secrets currently favors the Chinese more than the US. Which is why China's laws are more lax in this area. As the economies of China and the US approach parity, so will their laws and punishment.

      Ideally, a strong Chinese economy will eventually be beneficial to the US in the way a rising tide will raise all boats. The West is much farther ahead of the East (mostly China and minus Japan) right now, so the scales are tipped in their favor.

      Think of it this way, how much does the world get to enjoy European products (such as automobiles)? How much does the world get to enjoy Japanese products (such as electronics)? And then how much has the world benefited from the technology, products, and contributions of the US (McDonald's...Just kidding about that one)?

      In the long run, the rest of the world will also benefit from China's contributions, which seems laughable to some of you. It might not happen next year, but I'm pretty sure it'll happen some time in the next generation. It might feel like never, but nobody's ever accused the US of being farsighted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Usually I would agree with your opinion. But the effects you describe will only become available if China becomes a democracy. But hey, 1989 was just a regular year. ;)
        Otherwise all strategic interests in economy, science and trade will be strictly guided by the state only. I wouldn't count on so many positive effects.
        Small example: Huawei - China's biggest IT/communications corporation. In a regular standartization process all contributing companies profit from a new IETF draft. But in a recent case Huawei took the progress made and applied for a patent to exploit the work of others (Ericsson, Siemens, Nokia...). One of many examples.
        So I fail to see how such behaviour might add to human progress.

        Back to cars: When it comes to industrial espionage, history is full of irony. German car designs during the 1950s and 1960s were heavily inspired by US car designs. Japanese designs were in the 1970s were nothing more than copies of european and us designs. Korean companies often copied in the 1990s, China made it big in the new millenium.

        Extended to other indutries this list would really be endless.
        Meissen porcelain was a copy started in the 18th century - back to China. ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Percy - thanks for the history lesson. I agree that China's govt needs to open up, but these things will happen slowly. I think one of the West's better ideas is that free(r) markets can upend authoritarian states, and I think China is a pretty good example of it.

        I admit that my outlook is quite positive and I am intentionally ignoring all the short-term obstacles that the US and the rest of the world have to deal with. And I'm not educated enough or stupid enough to try to pretend like I know what the solution is in an AB comment. People have been saying the sky is falling for at least a couple thousand years already. Why do things always have to spiral down? They go in the other direction too...
        • 5 Years Ago
        And minus South Korea, it's no backwater. And Singapore. And large cities in Malaysia do okay.

        As to the rest of your comments, I don't agree at all. We've gone long past the point where cheap products are making things available to more and are well into the point where many many Americans are losing their jobs because they've moved virtually all manufacturing overseas. Try to find a product (barring food) at the store that isn't made in China, go ahead. Try to find an electronic device that is made in Japan! Even the Japanese outsource their manufacturing to China now, and that was a big step for two cultures that don't like each other.

        No matter how cheap stuff is, you can't enjoy the benefits if you don't have a job. If you want to keep your job, you'd better work at Evergreen Marine cause there's going to be little work left in the US other than unloading Chinese goods.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope the creep gets life, there is no wonder America is going down the tubes, I have no doubt there was a buyer in China for all of these items.

      Is this how we should treat the people that put food on our table, Lock him up and throw away the key.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Silly Free Press...Ford doesn't have any "engineers".
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bite me; my dad's worked at Ford as an engineer for more years than you will have a salaried job
      • 5 Years Ago
      "theft of trade secrets is a threat to national security and investigating allegations involving theft of trade secrets is a priority for the FBI."

      - Yeah, ok. Just don't let investigations like these get in the way of catching people who are really threatening national security. You know, like them there terrorists.

      Those penalties read like the disclaimer shown before watching pirated dvds. ;)
      • 5 Years Ago
      this is qinese so it's pretty typical. these thefts are pretty frequent in Korea actually qinese spies trying to steal technology from industry there causing more than $50 billion of damage each year. so their their progress is pretty much based on stealing, copying, infringing copyrighted materials.

      the funny thing is the thought that they can look at the direction of those small countries (Korean, Japan), make a smirk, and think to themselves "we can steal from those countries anytime anyways, we can be tranquile".
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