Wenfeng Lu, a 43-year-old engineer from Irvine California, was charged by California federal prosecutors on Wednesday with 12 felony acts of stealing medical trade secrets from ev3/Covidien and Edwards Lifesciences Corp.
The US Attorney’s Office claims Lu stole confidential reports, gear photos, test results and emails from the two previous employers. The man used his company email to send confidential information to his personal account to set up his own medical device company in China. An FBI agent testified Lu was “in the process of setting up a company with other individuals in the PRC to manufacture medical devices.”
During the three years spent working for ev3/Covidien and Edwards Lifesciences Corp, he allegedly made regular trips to China, sometimes shortly after collecting confidential information. The criminal case was taken over by the FBI, which arrested Lu in November 2012. Lu could face 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $5 million.
“When the stolen material is destined for foreign entities seeking to compete with American businesses, as it was in this case, IP theft also threatens the security of our nation,” United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker declared. “This is one of the reasons that my Office now prosecutes IP crimes out of a National Security Division.”
Organizations should be vigilant and take security measures to protect proprietary information from inside and outside threats, attorney Adam Greene advises. This was not a singular case of trade secret theft, he said, and similar situations may not yet have been detected. To reduce risks, prosecutors recommend signing confidentiality agreements with employees, limiting physical access to research labs, keeping thorough track of visitors, and regularly training employees on the security and confidentiality of business information.