The law firm handling an intellectual privacy suit against China's Green Dam filtering tool is said to be the target of recent phishing attack.
Law firm Gipson, Hoffman and Pancione has reported that several employees received emails either containing attachments or links to sites that attempted to infect the systems with malware.
The messages were reportedly crafted to appear to be from other employees at the firm and intended for specific individuals, a technique commonly referred to as 'spear phishing.'
News of the attack comes in the wake of a large-scale cyberattack on more than 20 large US firms believed to have originated from China. The row has caused Google to threaten to suspend all of its operations within the country.
While no clear motive for the attack has been found, it is believed to be related to the Gipson, Hoffman and Pancione's's recent filing of a $2.2bn suit on behalf of the company's client, software developer Solid Oak Software.
The suit alleges that the Green Dam software tool stole code from Solid Oak's Cybersitter filtering tool.
Even before the suit was filed, Green Dam had generated headlines and criticism within the tech world. In June of last year, Chinese officials were said to be preparing a plan to roll out the tool as a mandatory bundle for computers sold within China.
The plan drew heavy criticism from privacy groups, and when Solid Oak began to hint at copyright charges, many US vendors were faced with the possibility of having to block shipments to Green Dam-equipped PCs China for fear of copyright theft charges.