Zuoxing Yang, CEO and founder of MicroBT, a Shenzhen-based bitcoin miner maker, is being held by local authorities to assist in an investigation.
The investigation is about allegations of intellectual property infringement by the company related to the tech of its rival Beijing-based cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain, according to a source close to MicroBT with info of the matter. The news was initially reported by China’s cryptocurrency news source BlockBeats.
The source told CoinDesk that Yang was taken away by local authorities at the end of October, after the unanticipated return to Bitmain of Jihan Wu, co-founder of the company.
Wu took control of Bitmain last week by ousting the firm’s other co-founder Micree Zhan, who was the chairman by then.
Yang was previously processor design director at Bitmain, in charge of developing the company’s flagship AntMiner S7 and S9 models around 2016.
However, he left the firm and raised more than $20 million to start MicroBT, which produces the WhatsMiner range of mining gadgets, after discussions with Zhan and Wu for stock options came to nothing.
Bitmain has already sued Yang and his firm in 2017 over alleged infringement of a patent that the former obtained for bitcoin miner-related tech. Last year, Yang’s lawyers successfully appealed to a court in China to have the patent rescinded, after which the lawsuit was dismissed.
The source claimed that at the moment. It’s unclear how and why a police investigation has been opened regarding possible intellectual property infringement.
In the past few weeks, MicroBT has been posing serious competition to leading miner makers – the likes of Bitmain and Canaan, having increased its market share in the crypto mining sector.
Neither MicroBT nor Bitmain has issued a comment on the matter.