Sinovel 'will protect interests' after U.S. court rules against it

Updated 2018-01-26 10:55:03

Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel said it is "fully prepared and will take proactive measures to protect its interests," after the company was convicted on Wednesday of multiple U.S. court charges of trade-secret theft that may lead to fines of millions of dollars on the company.

"We received our U.S. lawyers' email on Thursday morning informing us of the charges, and in response, we will resort to legal means to safeguard our legal rights as well as those of small stakeholders," read a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

The comment came after a U.S. federal jury in the state of Wisconsin on Wednesday found Sinovel guilty on multiple charges.

It includes trade-secret theft, conspiracy and wire fraud in its business with American Superconductor (AMSC) and its related companies, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The charges against Sinovel were brought in 2013, in which prosecutors claimed that Sinovel stole AMSC's patented information to "avoid having to pay" AMSC, Reuters reported.

A final ruling is expected on June 4. If convicted, the Chinese company could face fines up to .8 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Shares of Shanghai-listed Sinovel declined 3.92 percent to 1.47 yuan (23 cents) at Thursday's close.

The case also came amid U.S. President Donald Trump's tougher stance against China in bilateral trade, raising concerns that friction between the two economic powerhouses, not only in trade but also other areas like intellectual property rights (IPR), could intensify in 2018.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said at the Davos Forum in Switzerland that property rights, steel and aluminum "will be the next for protections in the U.S."

On Tuesday, the Trump administration approved a 30 percent tariff on solar panel imports, which industry insiders interpreted as a move targeting Chinese producers.

Conflicts over IPR between China and the U.S. have existed for a long time.

In general, IPR lawsuits are used by industry leaders as a protective measure against their competitors, Dong Yizhi, a research fellow with the China e-Business Research Center, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Sinovel may countersue lawsuit to refute AMSC, he said.

Dong said such conflicts between Chinese and U.S. companies will grow as domestic companies go global, but this contributes to the development of industries once the cases are settled within an international legal framework.

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