Ex-SoftBank employee found guilty of stealing firm’s 5G secrets

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Tokyo District Court in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — The Tokyo District Court on Friday found a former SoftBank Corp. employee guilty of leaking information related to the company’s 5G mobile communications business, in violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.

The court sentenced Kuniaki Aiba, 47, to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for four years, with a fine of ¥1 million. According to the ruling, Aiba in December 2019 accessed a SoftBank cloud server from his home and took out the information containing SoftBank’s trade secrets.

Presiding Judge Masakazu Kamakura pointed out that Aiba, who joined rival mobile carrier Rakuten Mobile Inc. the following month, intended to use the information at his new workplace. The judge said Aiba’s act was “serious” as the information included data SoftBank gathered through many years of trial and error, as well as its 5G switchover plan.

The defense side claimed that Aiba was innocent as the information was easily accessible and therefore could not be considered trade secrets.

On the matter, SoftBank has filed a lawsuit against Aiba and Rakuten Mobile, demanding ¥1 billion in damages while claiming that it suffered about ¥100 billion of damage.