Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation will pay Micron Technology an undisclosed fee to settle a trade secret dispute that has raised US concerns that China has stolen technology.
UMC is fined 60 million dollars in October of last year after pleading guilty to US charges of stealing confidential Micron information and sharing it with China-based Fujian Jinhua during a partnership with the company.
The incident leaves Taiwanese technology companies with a vital part of the global semiconductor supply chain but often with deep connections to Chinese manufacturers.
Taiwanese companies have been pushed to reduce their reliance on China during a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing under President Donald Trump.
The UMC dispute settlement comes in the context of the US stepping up a campaign to limit technology transfer to China.
Linghao Bao, an analyst at Trivium China, said that with the shortage of computer chip supplies, manufacturers are at risk of getting caught in the middle of growing US-China tensions.
“Chips have become the new oil. They cannot be separated from geopolitics,” Bao said.
The Biden administration on Wednesday brought dozens of Chinese groups into the field of quantum computing and other cutting-edge technologies on a single platform. export blacklist. It has also called for more transparency in the semiconductor supply chain, a move that analysts say will damage competitiveness by some chip manufacturers.
The dispute with UMC dates back to 2016 when the company signed an agreement with Fujian Jinhua that included provisions for the Taiwanese company to help it increase production capacity.
In October last year, UMC admitted in court that it had hired engineers from Micron, who later worked on the project and allegedly shared confidential information from Micron with UMC.
In a joint statement released on Friday, the two companies said that with the payment of an undisclosed fee from UMC, both parties would withdraw their claims against each other. The companies added that they “look forward” to joint business opportunities in the future.
Dan Wang, Shanghai-based technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics, said semiconductors remain “one of the central fronts” in the US-China competition and that the US has launched ” little sign” that they will relax control over Technology.
“The chipmakers are in a gloomy mood. The U.S. government has taken the matter of policy to evict them from a country that is people’s biggest or fastest growing market.”