Two engineers about to go on trial for allegedly stealing confidential computer chip designs from their Silicon Valley employer and a partner firm were indicted Sept. 26 on the rare and more serious charge of economic espionage, prosecutors said.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in San Jose accuses Lan Lee, 42, of Palo Alto, and Yuefei Ge, 34, a Chinese national living in San Jose, of orchestrating the computer-chip plot so they could go into business with the Chinese military.