Trial begins in stolen software case

Did a Chinese company conspire to steal proprietary wind turbine software from the Middleton office of AMSC (fka American Superconductor)? That’s the question being sorted out in a federal case that just began in Madison.

According to a report from the Wisconsin State Journal, AMSC charges that Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Group benefited from the actions of a disgruntled Serbian engineer working for an Austrian subsidiary of AMSC who stole and shared AMSC’s source code information with Sinovel. That information has since been incorporated into Sinovel wind turbines.

Reportedly, Sinovel received $800 million in equipment from AMSC, but never paid for it after canceling signed contracts. The theft, according to AMSC, forced Massachusetts-based AMSC to close its Middleton office in 2014 and slash staff in its New Berlin, Wis. office.

A lawyer representing Sinovel argues the disgruntled employee worked on his own, acknowledging that a Sinoval official accepted the software after the Serbian stole it, which he says was “careless” but not criminal.