International Developments

The following review of Qatar’s trade secrets laws continues the series of trade secrets law reviews for the Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”). Qatar has a comprehensive legal regime in place for the protection of trade secrets, perhaps more so than its GCC counterparts. First and foremost, it has enacted a law to specifically address the protection of trade secrets (Law No. 5 of 2005 on Trade Secrets) (the “Trade Secrets Law”).  However, Qatar also offers additional safeguards under its labour, intellectual property, criminal and commercial laws, as summarized below.[1] It is also worth noting that despite the protection already conferred by law, it is common practice in Qatar to address trade secrets and other confidential information by contract.

Continue Reading MENA Trade Secrets Law Review: Qatar

We begin the first in a series of case studies of the Trade Secrets Laws of the Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”) with a review of the trade secrets law of the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”).

The UAE affords broad protection of trade secrets through multiple avenues, including its civil, labor and patent laws. However, the lack of a specific and comprehensive trade secrets law means that scope and enforceability of these rights is somewhat uncertain. Thus, while the UAE does afford trade secret protection and remedies, the best form of trade secret protection for companies doing business in the UAE is through contracts with employees and third parties, which are generally enforceable.
Continue Reading MENA Trade Secrets Law Review: United Arab Emirates

The reverse engineering of the mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine … a good example  

Recently, the reverse engineering of trade secrets made headline news when it became known that Stanford scientists had published a previously unknown mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, reverse engineered from droplets left in used vials.


Continue Reading Reverse Engineering of Trade Secrets: An important issue you should consider when setting up your innovation protection strategy

Simple facts…

In 2018, an employee requested access to and a copy of all their personal data processed by the employer during the past decade (this is pursuant to the data subject’s right of access enshrined in art. 15 (1) and (3) of the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)). The employee considered the response unsatisfying and filed a complaint with the Belgian Data Protection Authority (“DPA”). The DPA issued a decision on February 9, 2021 (the “Decision”).


Continue Reading Invoking Trade Secrets to Block a Request to Access Personal Data under the GDPR: A “Threat” Has to Be Clearly Demonstrated

As the year comes to a close, it’s safe to say 2020 was a year unlike any other and full of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to the growing threat to U.S. intellectual property abroad.

A look back on the 10 most read posts from this past year highlights some key developments

United Microelectronics Corporation, Inc. (“UMC”), a Taiwanese semiconductor foundry and the world’s fourth largest contract chipmaker, pleaded guilty on October 28, 2020, to criminal trade secret theft, will pay a $60 million fine – the second largest ever in a criminal trade secrets case – and will cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of its co-defendant, a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

Continue Reading Taiwanese Semiconductor Pleads Guilty, To Pay $60 Million Fine for Criminal Trade Secret Theft

Not surprisingly given the hundreds of billions of dollars of American intellectual property lost to China each year, trade secret theft and China is a hot topic for the public and private sector alike.

On September 29, 2020 2:00 -3:00 pm EDT, Caroline Brown and Jim Stronski will share their thoughts on the latest developments

This week, the U.S. government continued its enforcement activity against Chinese government-sponsored trade secret theft, indicting two Chinese hackers for allegedly stealing data from 25 domestic and international companies, including targeting those now researching COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and treatment. The two defendants had allegedly acquired hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trade secrets and other valuable business information across a span of nearly eleven years. This announcement follows in the wake of the indictment of Dr. Charles Lieber, a former Harvard professor, who allegedly lied about his participation in China’s “Thousand Talents Plan,” a program that has been accused of facilitating the stealing of American trade secrets. Our coverage of that indictment is here.

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced charges against Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi in the Eastern District of Washington, alleging that they hacked the computer networks of 13 United States and 12 international companies in industries ranging from high tech manufacturing and medical device engineering to solar energy and pharmaceuticals, all between September 2009 and July 2020.
Continue Reading DOJ Targets Chinese Hackers for Stealing United States Trade Secrets

The trade secrets of American industries and research institutions are often the target of foreign interests, as this blog has detailed in the past. Most recently, on June 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) indicted the former Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and nanoscientist, Dr. Charles Lieber, for allegedly making false statements to federal authorities about his participation in China’s “Thousand Talents Plan.” This Plan, according to a 2019 Senate report, is part of China’s “strategic plan to acquire knowledge and intellectual property from researchers, scientists, and the U.S. private sector.” Past participants in the Plan have included a former General Electric engineer, Xiaoqing Zheng, who was indicted in April 2019 for allegedly stealing GE’s trade secrets related to turbine technology while employed at GE Power & Water in Schenectady, New York.

China’s Thousand Talents Plan began in 2008 and has been a concern of the U.S. government for some time. A 2019 Senate report characterized the Plan as a danger to American national security and proprietary information and stated that it “incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain [in the United States] to China in exchange for salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives.”
Continue Reading Harvard Professor Indicted for Allegedly Lying About Participation in Chinese Talent Recruitment Program

China’s National People’s Congress has released a draft law for comment that would impose harsher criminal penalties for any trade secret theft from Chinese companies that benefits foreign companies.

China’s current law imposes a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment for “serious” instances and 10 years for “particularly serious” instances of trade secret theft. The proposed law would impose harsher sentences for trade secret theft benefiting a foreign entity, resulting in 5 years for “serious” instances and a minimum of 5 years with no maximum for “particularly serious” instances.
Continue Reading China Proposes Harsher Penalties for Trade Secret Theft in Draft Amendment