HTC One designers jailed for allegedly stealing trade secrets

Three lead smartphone designers are arrested and detained on grounds that they pilfered company information to start their own mobile startup.

HTC senior manager of design Justin Huang was accused of attempting to steal company trade secrets.
Seamus Byrne/CNET

A trio of top HTC One designers have been arrested in Taiwan for allegedly scheming to steal company trade secrets and start their own mobile design company, according to Engadget.

The three designers -- vice president of design Thomas Chien, senior manager of design Justin Huang, and development director Wu Chien-Hung -- were reportedly arrested by the police on Saturday. News of their arrest caused HTC's shares to tumble nearly 6 percent on Monday.

The trio is accused of downloading information on HTC's new Sense 6.0 UI design and filing fraudulent commission fees to HTC of more than $334,000. They reportedly had plans to start a new mobile company aimed for the Chinese market called "Xiayou," according to Engadget.

In a statement, HTC said:

The company expects employees to observe and practice the highest levels of integrity and ethics. Protecting the company's proprietary and intellectual properties, privacy and security is a core fundamental responsibility of every employee. The company does not compromise nor condone any violation at any level of our organization and the company shall act in accordance to the law. As this matter is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities, we therefore refrain from further comments. In addition, the company has sufficient resources in our design team and this situation will not impact the company's operations, product portfolio plans and our overall business performance.

As of this writing, Huang has been reportedly released on bail, but Chien and Chien-Hung remain in jail. According to Bloomberg, two others accused of stealing trade secrets were also detained and released on bail.

The HTC One flagship smartphone launched with several U.S. carriers in August. The device is packed with high-tech components and technologies including some of the latest processing gear from Qualcomm. In addition to being state-of-the-art, the successor to 2012's HTC One X is crafted from premium metals.

CNET contacted HTC for comment. We'll update this story when we get more information.