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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Former Broadcom Engineer Charged With Theft Of Trade Secrets

Engineer Allegedly Stole Trade Secrets Before His Departure from Broadcom, Then Possessed and Used Trade Secrets While Working For Startup Company

SAN JOSE – A federal grand jury has indicted Peter Kisang Kim, a former Broadcom engineer, with trade secret theft involving Broadcom trade secrets, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.  

The indictment, filed November 4, 2021, and unsealed today, alleges that Kim, 50, a resident of Ben Lomond, worked as a principal design engineer at Broadcom and had been employed by the company for over twenty years.  Broadcom is headquarted in San Jose and its products include networking chips used in equipment sold worldwide, including for enterprise and data center networking.  

In the days before his July 17, 2020, departure from Broadcom, the indictment alleges that Kim stole Broadcom trade secrets from the company that were associated with a Broadcom family of chips often used in high-volume data centers.  According to the indictment, the trade secrets were stored in non-public document repositories that were restricted to Broadcom employees within the same suborganization, or to Broadcom employees working on a project.  

About ten days after his departure from Broadcom, Kim began working at the director level for Company-1, a China-based startup company focused on chip design and the market for networking chips, according to the indictment.  The indictment alleges that Kim received a laptop for his work at Company-1 and, during the nine months following his departure from Broadcom and the start of his work at Company-1, that Kim possessed and repeatedly used Broadcom trade secrets on the newly-issued laptop and on other electronic devices.  These trade secrets were associated with test plans, design verification environment files, and design specifications for the Broadcom family of chips.  

The indictment charges Kim with eighteen counts trade secret theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832(a).  An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, Kim faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, for each count.  The court also may order additional assessments, forfeiture, and restitution; however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

This afternoon, Kim made his initial appearance in federal court in San Jose, where he was arraigned on the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.  Kim was released on a $500,000 bond and ordered to surrender his passport and other travel documents.  Kim is next scheduled to appear at 1:30 pm on January 31, 2022, before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Cheng and Kyle Waldinger of the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, with the assistance of Kathy Tat and Margoth Turcios.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Updated November 9, 2021