Google’s Former Star Self-Driving Executive: Charged

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

Over two (2) years ago (May 2017) I asked the question in a blog post titled, “Is There a Different IP Protection Policy for Star Employees?”.

WHY DID I ASK THIS QUESTION?

I asked this question based on the allegations that the former head of Google’s self-driving program (SCOTT LEVANDOWSKI) had just walked away with Google’s trade secrets and went over to Uber.

At the time, I was baffled that LEVANDOWSKI had not been criminally charged and that Google was pursuing it through a “civil” legal process.

Google and Uber settled on the “civil” side in 2018, the criminal issue–in regards to LEVANDOWSKI’s alleged trade secrets theft–had not been resolved.

ARE STAR-EMPLOYEES SPECIAL?

Composition of a Chinese Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise: A Family Affair –UPDATE

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

In January 2016, U.S. federal prosecutors (Department of Justice-DOJ) in Pennsylvania indicted five people for allegedly stealing trade secrets from UK pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Two of the accused were scientists at GSK’s U.S. facility in Pennsylvania. A third was the twin-sister of one of the GSK scientists, and another was the husband of the other GSK scientist.

According to the DOJ press release the theft occurred in order to benefit a Chinese company.

The following five (5) defendants were charged with trade secrets theft:

  • YUE XUE; (GSK scientist)
  • TIAN XUE (her twin-sister)
  • LUCY XI (GSK scientist)
  • YAN MEI; (her husband)
  • TAO LI

A key figure in this conspiracy is former GSK scientist: 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.”

***I discussed this case in five (5) consecutive posts on my blog in October 2018, titled, “Composition of a Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise-Case Study, Parts 1-5”

NEW SPIN—ACCUSED # 6

Just this week there was an additional action taken by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) that puts another twist on this case.

As it turns out, not only was “Joyce’s” sister involved in the conspiracy, but “Joyce’s” brother was involved as well.

According to recent press reports, GONGDA XUE, the “Joyce’s” brother worked at a drug company in Switzerland during the time of the conspiracy in which he’d received stolen GSK trade secrets from his sister (“Joyce”) and used the Switzerland drug company’s facility to perform tests. The results of the tests were then passed onto to conspirators in China.

What is the Cloud Act and Why Should Global IP Investigators Care?

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

WHAT IS THE U.S. CLOUD ACT?

Last year the U.S. passed the Cloud Act which essentially makes it possible for the U.S. to compel a data provider to produce electronic evidence regardless of what country the data is stored.

It also provides for bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other qualifying countries to not restrict access to the data if stored in their country.

WHAT DOES THE WORD “CLOUD’ IN THE CLOUD ACT MEAN?

The acronym C-L-O-U-D stands for, “Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act”

WHAT WAS ONE OF THE CATALYSTS FOR THE CLOUD ACT?

Blueprint for Screening Candidates / Organizations – Trade Secrets Protection

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

As a follow-up to my last post titled, “Know Your Researcher – Academic Espionage – Trade Secrets Theft,” I embedded an FBI Counterintelligence Strategic Partnership Intelligence Note (SPIN) dated September 2015.

If you haven’t had a chance to look it over, it warrants a closer look.

The last two pages of the document provide a blueprint—a list of things for organizations to consider when screening employee candidates and other organizations before collaboration starts. But, even if collaboration has begun, it is still a useful guide in determining if you should continue or end the relationship.

This blueprint is a particularly useful guide for general counsel, human resources and private investigators (retained on behalf of organizations) to conduct enhanced background screening of potential employees.

*All information in italics is extracted from the 2015 FBI handout.

Professor Allegedly Steals Student’s Research/Trade Secrets–Is Blockchain Technology the Solution?

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

It was widely reported a few days ago that a pharmacy professor at the University of Missouri allegedly stole his gifted student’s research, sold it to a pharmaceutical company, and did not credit his student or the university with having made the discovery.

The alleged misappropriation of the student’s research took place sometime between 2008 and 2010.

Here’s one quote from a New York Times article titled, Former Missouri Professor Stole Student’s Research to Sell New Drug, Lawsuit Alleges: “The lawsuit said that Dr. Mitra and Mrs. Mitra [the professor and his wife] … or people responding to their orders, removed or destroyed Dr. Cholkar’s [the graduate student’s] laboratory notebooks that he used to document the experiments…

Beware of: Business E-Mail Compromise (BEC)

*Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

The following blog post is not about IP per se, however, it does address an alarming fraud scheme that organizations, brands, and IP support professionals need to to have an understanding and awareness of:

It’s called: Business E-Mail Compromise (BEC).

ALARMING TREND

There is an alarming scam-assault on businesses taking place in the U.S. and in Western Europe in which BEC is the weapon-of-choice.

And it demands the attention of management.

Employee Use of Company Computers and Email Continues to Chronically Facilitate Trade Secrets Theft

* Previously posted on IPPIBlog.com

RECENT FIVE-PART BLOG SERIES-TRADE SECRETS THEFT ENTERPRISE

In last month’s five-part blog-post series titled, “Composition of a Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise-Case Study” we took a deep dive into how certain GlaxoKleinSmith (GSK – a U.S. pharmaceutical company) employees routinely downloaded trade secrets to their company email accounts then transferred it to their personal email accounts.

Part 1   Part 2    Part 3    Part 4   Part 5

AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN…

It just continues to be a common story. Employees (not outsiders!) transfer proprietary information from their company email accounts to their personal email accounts or download trade secrets from their company computers/laptops to the cloud or to a zip drive, and pass it on.

RECENT NOTABLE EXAMPLES

Here are four other recent examples within only the last thirty days: