A man was recently charged with possessing stolen trade secrets from his job with New Jersey defense contractor Space & Navigation. The secrets involved technology that could be used for target locators, among other military applications. He is accused of taking this restricted military data and presenting it at two conferences in China.
Aside from the criminal charges, it is likely the employee was violating a contract with his employer. Successful businesses often use restrictive covenants in their employment contracts to prevent current and previous employees from sharing trade secrets, like in this case.
Employers sharing proprietary information with their employees, like the defense contractor, can include non-compete clauses in their contracts. These will prevent employees from working in direct competition with their former employer.
If the defense contractor included such clauses in its employment contracts, it may be able to sue the man for breach. Prosecutors for the criminal charges say the man had a computer with hundreds of documents related to his work with precision navigation for the company. Some of these documents were explicitly prohibited for export. In addition, the man was never issued a company laptop or allowed to bring the information outside the facility.
The man allegedly violated the company's security rules by giving the presentation in Shanghai. However, the conference, organized by the Chinese government, listed him as a representative of the company. He supposedly told one company executive he was going on vacation in Chicago.
There is evidence the man knew he was violating the law and company policy. The documents were all marked as sensitive and said they contained "export controlled information." The company also provided training on export-control laws.
Source: NJ.com, "New charge for man accused in trade secrets case," Apr. 5, 2012