Chinese Duo Face Piracy Charges

Friday, April 20, 2012 @ 03:04 PM gHale

Two Chinese nationals are now facing charges for illegally exporting at least $100 million in technology to their home country and pirating software from U.S. companies including Agilent Technologies Inc., federal officials said.

The husband and wife team of Xiang Li, 35, and Chun Yan Li, 33, from Chengdu, China, ended up indicted by a federal grand jury in Wilmington, DE, according the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

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“Counterfeiting and intellectual-property theft are seriously undermining U.S. business and innovation — more than $100 million in lost revenue in this one case alone,” said John Morton, the agency’s director.

The couple stand accused of running a website called “Crack 99” that sold copies of software the “access-control mechanisms” of which had been circumvented, Morton said. The pair faces charges of distributing more than 500 pirated copyrighted works to more than 300 purchasers in the U.S. and overseas from April 2008 to June 2011.

The software includes programs made by Santa Clara, CA-based Agilent and Canonsburg, PA-based Ansys Inc., according to the indictment.

Federal agents arrested Xiang Li in June 2011 on an earlier indictment in the case. Chun Yan Li “remains an at- large fugitive in Chengdu,” according to the statement.

An Agilent product intended to speed up the design process for electronic equipment was among the software illegally copied by the couple, according to the indictment. The SystemVue 2009 program sells for $45,000.

Agilent was not immediately available for comment.

In connection with the charges, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, the government said.

Cosburn Wedderburn, 38, of Windsor Mill, MD, pleaded guilty in federal court in Delaware today, according to court filings. Government agents said Wedderburn bought more than $1 million in pirated software from the couple’s website.

Wedderburn is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the government’s statement. The ex-NASA employee has agreed to testify against the Lis as part of a plea bargain, said David Hall, one of the prosecutors assigned to the case.