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COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 1 of 5

Last month the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced the second guilty plea from one of five individuals charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a U.S. pharmaceutical company. According to the press release the theft occurred in order to benefit a Chinese company backed by the Chinese government.

REASONS TO HIGHLIGHT THIS CASE

As an IP protection specialist, investigator and blogger, I am always interested in learning more about how different IP criminal conspiracies work. Uncovering the mechanics of these operations teaches us how to more effectively defend against it, and help minimize exposure. It reminds us all of the many faces of trade secrets theft.

HOW WILL I GO ABOUT IT?

I will dig into public court documents and extract information that will shed light on the overall operation. I will start with the initial criminal complaint filed against the defendants by the FBI special agent assigned to the case. In succeeding posts I will then follow-up with information about the structure of the conspiracy; the defendants professional and personal backgrounds; the roles each of the defendants played; significant findings uncovered during the investigation; and finally the current status of the defendants.

SERIAL INFORMATION – SHARING MODEL

I recognize that we all have only so much time in any given day to consume content, even when it’s useful, so, I will present the content in manageable segments on successive days. I will use this serial content sharing model and post on this topic daily not to exceed 500 words of content per post.

FORMAT OF THE NEXT SEVERAL POSTS

So, over the course of the next several consecutive posts, I will focus on this case and briefly highlight different elements of the case and make some IP protection observations.

LET’S BEGIN…

WHO WAS CHARGED?

In December 2015 the following five (5) defendants were charged with trade secrets theft:

  • YUE XUE;
  • TAO LI;
  • YAN MEI;
  • TIAN XUE; and
  • LUCY XI, respectively

The key figure in this conspiracy is YU XUE, a/k/a “Joyce.”

Here is a quote from the complaint,

“YU XUE (“Joyce”) e-mailed … from her GSK e-mail account to her personal account and then forwarded that intellectual property to her conspirators … also used her GSK computer to download a substantial amount of intellectual property from GSK’s network, apparently onto a thumb drive or other portable storage device, to send this information to her conspirators.”

IP PROTECTION OBSERVATION

  • Leaping from the above complaint quote is that “Joyce” used a GSK e-mail account to transfer proprietary information to her personal account
  • It reinforces the fundamental protection strategy for companies to have robust internal email monitoring systems in place to pick up these types of transfers
  • Particularly the transfer of information from a company controlled email account to a personal account
  • And her downloading of information to a thumb drive should make any trade secrets owner shiver over how easy that is to do
  • From a protection perspective, we are getting to a point in which what an employee is permitted to bring into a work site—and leave with—will need to be strictly regulated (see my October 2017 post titled, “Trade Secrets Protection – Mindfulness”)

IN THE NEXT POST…Part 2…

…we will briefly survey the defendants backgrounds (to the extent information is available) concerning their duties and responsibilities in their mainstream jobs during the conspiracy (in addition to “Joyce”), as well as their education, location of their education, family situation, current country of residence, education and government affiliations, etc.

Were there any other trade secrets theft warning signs?

 

Disclaimer: IPPIBlog.com is offered as a service to the professional IP community. While every effort has been made to check information in this blog, we provide no guarantees or warranties, express or implied, with regard to content provided in IPPIBlog.com. We disclaim any and all liability and responsibility for the qualification or accuracy of representations made by the contributors or for any disputes that may arise. It is the responsibility of the readers to independently investigate and verify the credentials of such person and the accuracy and validity of the information provided by them. This blog is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP Protection and Investigations specialist at XG Consultants Group, Inc., in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has published a number of articles on various topics for PI Magazine. Ron is licensed in New York State.

8 comments on “COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 1 of 5

  1. Tim ONeill

    As always Ron you’re insightful content is a pleasure to read as informative and spot-on . Can’t wait to see all moving forward. Thank you

    • Ron Alvarez

      Thank you so much, Tim. Thank you for your support of my blog and your continued interest. Much appreciation!

  2. William Hullihan

    Hello Ron,

    Always informative!

    • Ron Alvarez

      Thanks very much, Bill. Very much appreciate your interest and support!

  3. Pingback: COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 2 of 5 – IP PI BLOG

  4. Pingback: COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 3 of 5 – IP PI BLOG

  5. Pingback: COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 4 of 5 – IP PI BLOG

  6. Pingback: COMPOSITION OF A TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE – CASE STUDY – Part 5 of 5 – IP PI BLOG

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