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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A little-known dispute between a U.S. renewable energy company and its Chinese customer over the theft of trade secrets could prove to be a significant test of China's intellectual property laws, and the success of Western companies in pursuing claims in China.

American Superconductor Corp, which makes wind turbine components and transmission grid systems, is seeking to recover $1.2 billion from Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd in four separate legal actions in China. The U.S. company has accused its former biggest customer of stealing the software AMSC makes to power wind turbines and illegally canceling contracts.

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