Yang Zuoxing, a former Bitmain employee who left the company and founded a rival called MicroBT, which manufactures the WhatsMiner bitcoin miner, is being held by police over alleged intellectual property disputes.
According to Chinese news outlet BlockBeats, Chinese police took Yang into custody over allegations of intellectual property infringement by his firm, MicroBT, of Bitmain. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the news outlet reports it isn’t clear why a police investigation was now open.
Yang was a Bitmain employee before founding MicroBT, and in the team responsible for designing Bitmain’s leading cryptocurrency miners, the Antminer S7 and S9 ASICs. He left the firm in June 2016, after trying to get an equity stake in it but being denied by co-founder Micree Zhan and Jihan Wu.
After he left the firm and founded a rival, Bitmain sued him over intellectual property infringement, but soon after Yang’s legal team managed to get a court in China to revoke the patent Bitmain had that was behind the lawsuit over the wide usage of the circuit designs used in it.
MicroBT’s market share in the cryptocurrency miner manufacturing industry has reportedly been rising. Yang is being held shortly after Micree Zhan was abruptly removed from his position at Bitmain, and Jihan Wu took over the firm.
Bitmain has reportedly also sued three other former employees earlier this year. According to CoinDesk these founded cryptocurrency mining pool Poolin, in a violation of their non-compete agreements. Poolin competes with Bitmain’s mining pools.