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Ex-scientists charged over theft of trade secrets

Almost all companies have some kind of intellectual property that they need to protect. Sacramento firms often have many trade secrets that they take great pains to protect. Even so, sometimes rogue employees attempt to capitalize on this information for their own profit.

Just such a case is unfolding in Indiana regarding drug company Eli Lilly. Two former company employees, both natives of China but now American citizens, have been charged in federal court with several felonies including conspiracy and theft. Government officials allege that the two sent some of the company's trade secrets to one of its China-based competitors.

The trade secrets concerned information about experimental drug research programs involving medications to treat diabetes, cancer and heart issues. Eli Lilly said that the information is valued at more than $50 million. Prosecutors tried to have the suspects held in jail until a trial can be held. However, the judge in the case ruled that the suspects were not flight risks and ordered them to be released to a halfway house, where they will have to pay for their housing and surrender their passports.

Whether or not the two scientists profited from the alleged leak wasn't made clear, but prosecutors said that wasn't the point: the fact that they stole the information, they say, merits a conviciton.

Companies don't need to be huge pharmaceutical giants in order to benefit from trade secret protection. An experienced intellectual property attorney can offer advice to companies who want to make sure that their secrets are safeguarded.

Source: WISH-TV, "Eli Lilly trade secret suspects released," Troy Kehoe, Nov. 8, 2013

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