Another legal test for U.S. in case of Chinese scientists accused of stealing GSK secrets

ScienceInsider has cautioned that a federal indictment against Yu Xue and Lucy Xi and three associates for allegedly stealing trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) in the U.S. related to work on an anti-HER3 antibody may test prosecutors' ability to get a conviction.

According to Shanghai-based writer Mara Hvistendahl, the details of the case are said to resemble those in a recent case that involved Chinese-American or Chinese defendants "in which federal prosecutors abruptly dropped charges because of improper analysis or insufficient evidence."

Those cases involved allegations of racial profiling, with the most recent high-profile one involving the interim chair of Temple University's physics department, Xiaoxing Xi, which was dropped based on support from colleagues.

ScienceInsider noted that Xi's case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Andrew Haugen, who is also the investigator in the GSK case, and that in both instances, the U.S. Attorneys' Office in Eastern Pennsylvania filed the indictments.

At the heart of the case are allegations of downloaded data onto a thumb drive that qualified as trade secrets theft, wire fraud, and related charges detailed in the indictment through emails and messages sent among the accused for plans to start a China-based company, Renopharm, that would develop a monoclonal antibody to treat cancer.

Peter Toren

ScienceInsider quoted Peter Toren, a litigator with Weisbrod Matteis & Copley in Washington, DC, who specializes in trade secrets cases, on the legal angles.

"Hopefully they did a better job of investigating the information before charging somebody who does not really have anything to do with stealing trade secrets," Toren told ScienceInsider.

ScienceInsider noted that Haugen filed an affidavit to determine if the act was a theft of trade secrets.

Xue's attorney, Peter Zeidenberg, a defense attorney at Arent Fox in Washington, DC, who has been hired by other Chinese scientists accused of trade secrets crimes, told ScienceInsider that "my client is not guilty and is pleading not guilty and will be contesting the charges."

- here's the article from ScienceInsider