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.
This post is Part 2 of 5 in which we continue to examine the details of this trade secrets theft enterprise. Please see the following link to read Part 1
In this post, we will take a look at the backgrounds of the five (5) defendants. In order to do this, we will continue to review public court documents–primarily the initial criminal complaint and the subsequent indictment.
The key defendant (YU XUE a/k/a “Joyce”) is considered one of the top protein biochemists in the world.
All of the five defendants appear to have been born and raised in China, and at least four of the five received their undergraduate and graduate education in China.
Three of the five defendants received their PhDs at U.S. universities: two at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the fourth at the University of Iowa, respectively.
Although another defendant received her PhD. in China, she did receive her Master’s Degree at the University of North Carolina, as well.
“Joyce” worked at GSK as a senior-level manager with two to three subordinates. She also worked at UNC as a research analyst for six years prior to her employment with GSK.
Another defendant worked as a scientist at GSK during the conspiracy.
FAMILY CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
“Joyce’s” twin sister and Ph.D. is one of the defendants.
The other GSK scientist-defendant (referenced above) is the wife of one of the other indicted co-conspirators.
IP PROTECTION OBSERVATION
So, here is the profile of an “International Trade Secrets Misappropriator” as detailed in Trade Secrets Asset Management 2016 by IP attorneys R. Mark Halligan and Richard F Weyland
- Born in a foreign country
- May be either naturalized U.S. citizen or foreign national on a work or student visa
- May be male or female, married or single, with or without children, of almost any age
- Often a group effort, such as a husband and wife team
- Usually from China, France, Israel, India, Japan or Russia
- Has close family remaining in the birth country, often parents
- Retains close ties to the birth country, traveling there often
- Highly educated, often with a PhD. in a technical field
- The theft is sponsored by a government agency, university, or technology company in the birth country
- Ultimately will return to the birth country and work for the sponsor
- Steals primarily product technology
- Theft may be through a front company, which shields the sponsor
- Motive: Nationalism
*In the “Pretrial Detention Order” concerning defendant-“Joyce,” the U.S. Attorney made the following point: “The defendant has substantial ties to China.”
IN THE NEXT POST…Part 3…
…we will examine the infrastructure of the trade secrets theft operation.
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