Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prosecutions under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act (EEA)

From an FBI press release:

Shanshan Du joined GM as an engineer in 2000, signing an agreement to protect proprietary information created or obtained during her employment. In late 2003, she asked to be reassigned to work involving the motor control system of hybrid vehicles. That gave her access to company trade secrets, and over the next couple of years, she allegedly copied thousands of sensitive GM documents onto external hard drives and flash drives—and even sent a few over her GM e-mail account. She is accused of then passing that information to her husband, Yu Qin, who was employed by a power electronics company but who was also secretly running his own company that was involved in hybrid technology.

Yu Qin allegedly used the GM information given to him by his wife to communicate with others, by e-mail and in person, about new business ventures that would provide hybrid vehicle technology to a Chinese automotive manufacturer and GM competitor. He also allegedly used the information when he applied for a job in the hybrid vehicle field and submitted résumés listing one of his “major accomplishments” as the design and simulation of the hybrid motor vehicle motor control system—the very subject of GM trade secret documents found in his possession.

In a different case, involving David Lee (currently of Jersey City, NJ):

According to the plea agreement, between September 2008 and February 2009, Lee negotiated employment with Nippon Paint, located in Shanghai, China. On Feb. 27, 2009, Lee accepted employment with Nippon as vice president of technology and administrator of research and development beginning on April 1, 2009, in Shanghai. Lee purchased a ticket to fly from Chicago to Shanghai on March 27, 2009. He did not inform Valspar that he had accepted a job at Nippon until he resigned on March 16, 2009.

At Valspar, Lee’s duties included scouting new paint technologies, coordinating with other paint laboratories, coordinating staffing and projects with Huarun Limited, a Valspar subsidiary located in China, and overseeing Valspar’s technical service group, which conducted experiments for paint coloring.

Between November 2008 and March 2009, Lee downloaded technical documents and materials belonging to Valspar, including the paint formula batch tickets. He further copied certain downloaded files to external thumb drives to store the data, knowing that he intended to use the confidential information belong to Valspar for his own benefit. The total value of the trade secret information Lee took is estimated at between $7 million and $20 million, the plea agreement states.


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