Former Broadcom engineer accused of pinching chip tech to share with new Chinese employer

We're guessing it wasn't Fiber Channel, but it would be weirdly cool if it was


A federal grand jury has charged a former Broadcom engineer with stealing trade secrets and using them while working at a new employer – a Chinese chip start-up.

The indictment against Peter Kisang Kim, a 20-year veteran of the San Jose-based semiconductor and infrastructure software product company, was unsealed yesterday.

Kim allegedly lifted the trade secrets from one of Broadcom's employee-only repositories as he prepared to leave the company in July of 2020. The stolen information included details of what the US Justice Department described as products "associated with a Broadcom family of chips often used in high-volume data centers".

Kim's new employer, where he started work ten days after leaving Broadcom, was a China-based chip start-up that targets the Middle Kingdom's domestic market for networking silicon and related chip design services.

The US Attorney's office in San Francisco alleges that over the next nine months Kim used Broadcom trade secrets on devices he worked on at his new gig.

Kim's been charged with 18 counts of trade secret theft, which could result in ten years jail time, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release – for each of the counts. That means up to 180 years and $4.5 million. He has pleaded not guilty and is out on bond.

The US does not want China getting its hands on digital technology trade secrets. In late 2020 its Department of Homeland Security published a guide that warned against even using Chinese tech for fear of theft of trade secrets, plus other risks. While Beijing has promised to maybe kinda stop the economic espionage of the past, the longstanding IP theft appears to persist.

But just what leaked from Broadcom is unclear and the DoJ's description of "chips often used in high-volume data centers" could mean almost anything.

The Reg can't imagine it means the Fiber Channel products Broadcom purchasedalong with Brocade in 2016 – an analysis we offer with full admiration for the SAN tech, and a little regret that it never got the reception it deserved.

In other Broadcom news, the company spent yesterday talking to investors about its software portfolio, which is dominated by the remnants of Symantec and CA.

The company revealed that its software biz delivers $5.2 billion of annual recurring revenue, more than half of which comes from subscriptions. Investors were told that Broadcom Software has "grown both average deal duration by increasing multiyear bookings as well as the number of deals that represent more than $1 million of annualized booking value".

Its strategy is to focus on "partnering with the largest multinational customers to provide a comprehensive portfolio of industry-leading solutions and generate sustainable revenue".

Just as long as it can stop employees stealing its tech. ®

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