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2 accused of spying for China

A former General Motors engineer and her husband stole the automaker’s trade secrets related to hybrid-car technology to help develop such vehicles in China, a U.S. prosecutor said Monday at the beginning of their trial in a Detroit federal court.

Shanshan Du, the ex-GM employee, copied the Detroit-based company’s private information on the motor control of hybrids and provided documents to her husband, Yu Qin, the government alleges. Qin used the confidential data to seek business ventures or employment with GM’s competitors, including the Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co., the U.S. said. General Motors contends the stolen trade secrets are worth more than $40 million, prosecutors said.

The defendants aren’t guilty, the couple’s lawyers said in their opening. The items at issue weren’t trade secrets and were “completely useless” for other companies, Frank Eaman, Qin’s lawyer said.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Franklin Electric earnings up 14%

Franklin Electric Co. on Monday reported third-quarter earnings of $21.9 million, or 91 cents per diluted share, a 14 percent increase from the $19.2 million, or 80 cents a share, posted for the same three months of last year.

The Bluffton-based manufacturer said the per-share results set a third-quarter record. Net sales were $237.6 million for the period ended Sept. 29, a 6 percent increase from 2011’s third quarter.

Franklin Electric designs and makes submersible motors and pumping systems used to move water and fuel. Customers include homeowners, municipalities and companies in commercial, agricultural and industrial industries.

Chairman and CEO Scott Trumbull said the company owes much of its earnings growth to productivity gains and organic sales growth led by Latin America and Asia Pacific.

In April, the company started construction near Fort Wayne International Airport on a new headquarters that is expected to cost $32 million to $36 million.

Netflix acts to stifle hostile takeovers

Netflix is moving to protect itself against hostile takeovers, less than a week after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a stake of nearly 10 percent in the online video company.

Netflix Inc. said Monday that it has adopted a shareholder rights plan, also known as a poison pill. Such a plan is designed to make it difficult or even impossible for someone to take over the company without an agreement from the board. When the provision is triggered, additional shares flood the market and make it prohibitively expensive for a takeover.

Netflix said the provision is triggered if a person or group acquires 10 percent of Netflix, or 20 percent in the case of institutional investors, in a deal not approved by the board.

Apple sells 3 million iPads after Mini launch

Apple says it sold 3 million iPads of all kinds in the first three days it sold the new Mini model. Apple started selling the Mini on Friday, starting at $329. It’s a third smaller than the full-size iPad.

The sales figure compares with 1.5 million iPads sold in the first three days after Apple launched the third-generation iPad in March and cut the price of the iPad 2. The launch involved 34 countries.