AFP reports that Taiwanese prosecutors are investigating allegations that three employees at leading smartphone maker HTC stole trade secrets to sell to Chinese firms.

The authorities have searched HTC’s research and development centre as well as the suspects’ offices and homes after the company accused them of stealing key interface technology, according to the Taipei-based China Times newspaper.

The 3 men were suspected of discussing plans with unidentified Chinese firm to acquire the technology that is to be used in HTC sense v6.0 on smartphones.

The 3 persons are identified as HTC’s chief industrial designer, a division chief and a designer. They have not been arrested and reportedly deny the accusations. They are accused of stealing trade secrets and breach of trust, with both offences carrying a maximum 10-year jail term.

They were also accused of illegally claiming more than Tw$10 million (S$420,850) in design fees from the company with falsified vouchers, the China Times added.

The men were said to have set up their own smartphone design companies in both Taiwan and China, according to the state Central News Agency.

“The matter is under investigation by relevant authorities. We therefore refrain from further comments,” HTC said in a statement. Prosecutors were not immediately reachable.

In fact, Taiwanese firms are targeted for their technology. In the past, many prototypes and information are leaked to online sites. There are also workers working in the industry leaking first hand information to their friends running blogs or sites.

By Harry