Chemist pleads guilty to stealing her company's trade secrets

A chemist from China pleaded guilty last week to stealing trade secrets from her New Jersey employer and putting them on the website of her personal company, a subsidiary of a Chinese chemical company, for sale. She now faces penalties of up to a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison.

The chemist worked for the healthcare company sanofi-aventis, which has its domestic headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey. It performs research and development, marketing and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals such as Plavix, Ambien and Allegra. The chemist admitted to stealing proprietary information that had not been publicly disclosed or shared before.

The woman said she copied the information from her work computer and transferred it to her home computer. She then made the stolen compounds available on the online catalogs of her personal company, in which she had a 50 percent interest. The chemist assigned part numbers from her company to the compounds and made them available for sale.

Her attorney says that while his client made an error in judgment by listing the compounds for sale, she would not have been able to provide them because she didn't actually have them. He said she merely listed the compounds for sale in order to make it appear as though her company had more products available than it actually did. He said she didn't end up selling the compounds to anyone.

The case is actually the third in the last year involving Chinese nationals allegedly stealing trade secrets from their New Jersey employers. It serves as a reminder to companies that their proprietary information needs to be protected, and that they need to have legal remedies available to them should a breach occur.

Source:, " Chemist admits to stealing sanofi-aventis secrets," Jan. 17, 2012


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