TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Hitachi Metals Ltd (HML) said it had filed a complaint in the United States against five Chinese firms that it said had inappropriately obtained trade secrets for making amorphous metals used in transformers.
The Tokyo-based firm and its U.S. unit Metglas lodged the complaint on Tuesday with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), saying two former HML employees, both Japanese nationals, had passed on the information to the Chinese firms.
“The two former HML employees misappropriated the complainants’ trade secrets which were then disclosed to the proposed company respondents,” HML said in a statement.
HML said the Chinese firms involved were Advanced Technology & Materials Co, Beijing ZLJG Amorphous Technology Co, Qingdao Yunlu Energy Technology Co, AT&M International Trading and CISRI International Trading.
Advanced Technology and Beijing ZLJG declined to comment. Officials at the other three firms were not immediately available to comment.
HML said it wanted the U.S. commission to investigate the Chinese firms, ban U.S. imports of amorphous steel ribbon and related products produced by the firms, and stop the sale, marketing and distribution of those products already imported to the United States.
“We will take a determined step against unfair competition in order to maintain our technical advancedness which is the source of our global competitiveness,” the Japanese firm said.
Amorphous metal ribbon is used in the production of electrical distribution transformers, high frequency magnetic components for power electronics and materials for anti-theft tags.
The ITC was expected to decide whether to investigate within 30 days, HML said.
In August, U.S. President Donald Trump authorised an inquiry into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property, the first direct trade measure by his administration against Beijing. China expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the move.
China’s Commerce Ministry said on Aug. 25 that Beijing would tighten controls over intellectual property to provide better opportunities for foreign firms.