Bitmain sues rival MicroBT for second time

Now that Beijing-based Bitmain Technologies Ltd. has settled the long-running civil war between its co-founder, the company has again refocused its ire on industry foe, MicroBT Technology Co. Ltd, in round two of their intellectual property dispute.

Bitmain originally sued the Shenzhen-based rival and its CEO Yang Zuoxing in 2017 for infringing a patent that Bitmain was awarded for its technology used in designing an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) for Bitcoin mining. But the Beijing IP Court dismissed the case in 2018 and revoked Bitmain’s authorized patent altogether.

The two ASIC mining hardware manufacturers are again embroiled in a legal battle, adding another chapter to their long-running row.

China’s local news website IP Economy reported that Bitmain has now levied charges of stealing its proprietary corporate technology against Yang, who was previously a Bitmain employee deeply involved in the research and development of new-generation chips.

Yang left Bitmain in acrimony after negotiations broke down over his equity-based compensation package for the instrumental role he played in developing Bitmain’s hugely successful AntMiner S7 and S9 hardware rigs.

The article notes Bitmain sued in Beijing IP Court on April 7th. The legal complaint demands a damage award of as much as 99 million yuan, or $15 million relief, from MicroBT.

In the documents submitted to the court, Bitmain accuses Yang of stealing corporate secrets after completing the research and development for Bitmain’s flagship miners. Bitmain further contends that Yang founded MicroBT to launch a rival product in July before he formally left Bitmain.

According to IP Economy, the Beijing IP Court notified Bitmain that it has received the complaint and will proceed appropriately. It’s unclear when the first hearing will take place. The latest case again shines the spotlight on the long-time rivalry between the two Chinese firms, as MicroBT’s growth significantly erodes Bitmain’s dominance in the ASIC mining hardware market.

Bitmain’s second claim comes months after the Shenzhen prosecutor released Yang from a criminal charge, which many have alleged to have been reported by Bitmain. Shenzhen police arrested Yang in December 2019 under a charge accusing the CEO of embezzlement. They later released him on parole, per online reports.

See also: TAAL’s Jerry Chan presentation at CoinGeek Live, The Shift from Bitcoin “Miners” to “Transaction Processors”

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