When Is The Possession of International Trade Secrets A Mistake Or Economic Espionage: Contrasting U.S. v. Yeh with U.S. v. Liew

2 12 2014

The judgments rendered in two recent 2014 federal criminal cases reveal the inherent complexity in prosecuting international trade secret misappropriation claims.

In U.S. v. Liew, Judge White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California sentenced defendant Walter Liew to 15 years in prison for misappropriating trade secrets from chemical giant DuPont and selling them to an overseas Chinese company known as the Pangang Group, based in Chengdu. It was proven during the trial that Liew and his company, ironically named USA Performance Technology, received over $27.8 million in compensation for selling DuPont’s industrial trade secrets to Pangang, the trade secrets including technical blueprints belonging to DuPont related to the manufacturing of titanium dioxide, a white-colored pigment used in many commonplace consumer products such as paper and plastic. Thus, Liew’s intent to misappropriate trade secrets was established beyond a reasonable doubt by U.S. Attorneys.

On the other hand, in U.S. v. Yeh, a Texas jury acquitted former Texas Instruments (TI) employee Ellen Yeh on all counts brought against her (including trade secret misappropriation) based on proprietary information she admitted downloading before leaving the U.S. to work for a semiconductor manufacturing company in China. In her testimony, which she submitted polygraph results for, Ms. Yeh stated that she had no idea such activity was illegal or unauthorized, was confused about what constituted a TI trade secret vs. non-trade secret, and merely downloaded the files only for safekeeping in case another job opportunity arose to work for TI in China. Therefore, after a nine-day jury trial, she was acquitted because she was not found to have the requisite intent to commit trade secret misappropriation or illegal copying.


The content in this post was found at http://www.tradesecretslaw.com/2014/08/articles/trade-secrets/when-is-the-possession-of-international-trade-secrets-a-honest-mistake-or-economic-espionage-contrasting-u-s-v-yeh-with-u-s-v-liew/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TradingSecrets+%28Trading+Secrets%29 and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



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