Huang vs. Asus: corporate fraud or consumer greed?

I’m thinking a little of column A, a little of column B. The story is this: Huang Jin, a student in China, bought an Asus laptop that was having a lot of hardware trouble. She sent it back a couple times and eventually they replaced the CPU, which then started overheating. Examining it, she found it to be an “engineering sample” — an early run CPU made for testing purposes — something which isn’t supposed to be distributed publically.

She got a lawyer and demanded $5 million from Asus or she’d release the media to the public. Asus negotiated with her but eventually rejected her outright and then charged her with extortion. She spent 10 months in jail, and has now been released and is countersuing Asus for damages and the state has dismissed the rest of her term, saying that the evidence was lacking. Quite a yarn!

It’s useless to speculate on the morality, or lack thereof, of an enormous company like Asus, but my guess is that they are mainly guilty firstly of throwing engineering samples on the pile for reuse (tsk tsk), then of an overzealous prosecution of the complainant. After all, they must have known the information would get out if they charged her, so why bother?

On the other hand, when Huang demanded such an incredible sum for the favor of keeping her mouth shut, she must have known that what she was doing was blackmail, pure and simple. She’s trying to warn people now that Asus is trying to cheat people, but corporate injustice is not particularly rare and I don’t think she’s really in a position to criticize. What do you guys think?
[via BoingBoing Gadgets]