Chinese Police Reopen Bitmain’s Patent Breach Allegations, Detains MicroBT Founder

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The founder of MicroBT, a Shenzhen-based Bitcoin mining rig maker, is summoned by Chinese police to aid in an investigation.

According to previous news reports, Zuoxing Yang has been approached by the local police in late October and has decided to hold him for questioning. Some industry accounts are quick to claim that Yang is once again facing his company’s rival, Beijing-based Bitmain, over an alleged intellectual property infringement case.

Notably, Yang was a former processor design director at Bitmain. He was responsible for developing the Antminer S7 and S9 models, Bitmain’s flagship products. However, his relationship with Bitmain’s founders, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan, began to turn sour when discussions over stock options left him disappointed.

In 2017, Yang decided to quit his job at Bitmain to start his own firm. He successfully raised $20 million from investors and founded MicroBT. However, in that same year, his former company sued him, alleging that he had breached a Bitmain patent. Yang’s lawyers fought to have the patent revoked, and in 2018, the case was dismissed by a Chinese court.

In late October, a sudden announcement from Jihan Wu left Bitmain’s workforce, as well as the industry, stunned and confused. He ousted then-chairman and biggest shareholder Micree Zhan, going as far as to threaten to fire whoever would be caught communicating with him.

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