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

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

Department of Justice
[via Flickr user jbtaylor]

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of posts addressing how corporate victims of trade secrets theft can enforce their intellectual property rights through the criminal justice system.  Prior posts can be found here and here.

Once a criminal investigation of trade secrets theft is underway, it’s not just a matter of the corporate victim passively watching the government pursue the case.  Pro-active engagement is required to maximize the benefits of a criminal investigation and prosecution.  But going about that the right way is an art form – there are many variables, unwritten rules, and traps for the inexperienced.  Effectively managing such situations begins with an understanding of the corporate victim’s relationship with the government.


Continue Reading Calling the Cops: Managing a Criminal Investigation and Prosecution of Trade Secrets Theft

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of posts addressing how corporate victims of trade secrets theft can enforce their intellectual property rights through the criminal justice system.  The introductory post can be found here.

FBI Building Entrance Large - Blog
[via Flickr user cliff1066]

The criminal enforcement landscape

The federal government has intensified its focus on intellectual property theft in recent years.  For example, there is now an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator  in the White House, and an Intellectual Property Task Force within the Department of Justice. The Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center spans some two-dozen federal agencies, and has public and stakeholder outreach as part of its mission.  The fact that more trade secrets cases are being prosecuted is a direct reflection of these efforts.  More agents and prosecutors have been made available, and the federal government has become more aggressive in going after foreign officials and state-owned entities despite the diplomatic implications.  Domestic enforcement is on the rise as well, with more high-profile criminal trade secrets cases being brought than ever before.


Continue Reading Calling the Cops: Initiating a Government Investigation of Trade Secrets Theft