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updated: 11/7/2011 6:45 PM

Corporate-espionage trial begins in Chicago

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Associated Press

A corporate-espionage trial has begun for a Chinese-born American accused of stealing secrets from Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. knowing they would eventually end up in the hands of China's military.

Prosecutors say former Motorola Inc. software engineer Hanjuan Jin bought a one-way ticket to China in 2007 and was stopped at O'Hare International Airport carrying 1,000 documents she downloaded at her Motorola office.

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The government said the documents included secrets about a feature enabling Motorola cellphones to work like walkie-talkies.

Defense attorney Beth Gaus concedes her 41-year-old client violated Motorola policy. But she said Jin merely wanted the documents to refresh her technical knowledge after a long medical absence.

Gaus also says the function was old-generation technology and not of significant use to China's military.

In another matter, Schaumburg-based Lemko Corp., a broadband systems maker, along with its owners Nicholas Labun of Chicago and Shaowei Pan of Kildeer, filed suit against Motorola Solutions, claiming "abuse of process, unfair competition and tortious interference with business relations and prospective economic advantage." The case was filed in Cook County circuit court.

The case said that despite so-called efforts by Motorola to tie Lemko to the Jin case, or to a Chinese spy effort, related to intellectual property, it has yet to provide proof, along with other allegations. The suit said Motorola subpoenaed about 60 Lemko customers, suppliers and potential investors in discovery efforts, and only succeeded in causing losses of business for Lemko, according to the lawsuit.

Motorola Solutions spokesman Nick Sweers said Motorola considers the allegations "frivolous and intends to vigorously defend the case."

"Motorola Solutions and Lemko have been litigating Lemko's alleged theft of trade secrets in the U.S. District Court in Chicago for over three years, and Lemko's action today is simply an attempt to rehash some of its same arguments in a different forum," said Sweers. "Lemko's latest litigation tactic does not change Motorola Solutions' long-standing belief in the importance of protecting its intellectual property. Motorola Solutions will continue pursuing its rights vigorously in the pending federal action, as well as defend against these most recent meritless claims."

•Daily Herald Business Writer Anna Marie Kukec contributed to this story.

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