Earlier this week, a U.S. Federal District Court Judge issued a ruling stating that federal prosecutors had not appropriately notified a Chinese company of a criminal indictment pending against them - specifically, an indictment regarding allegations the Chinese company was involved in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont.
Prosecutors had argued that their notice to the Chinese company was sufficient since they gave notification to the company's U.S. agent. However, the judge's ruling noted that prosecutors had not provided enough evidence to show that the Chinese company exerted sufficient control over the U.S. company in order for it to be considered an agent.
Currently, it is unclear how the case will proceed, but the district court judge gave prosecutors until August 16 to determine what they want to do next.
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
Even though the above-referenced case involves criminal allegations of espionage, it is important to note that a company in California who misappropriates another company's trade secrets could also be held liable in California civil courts.
The definition of trade secret misappropriation in California can be quite complex, but at its most basic level it includes any acquisition, disclosure or use of another company's trade secret by someone who knows, or has reason to know, the trade secret was obtained by improper means.
As mentioned above, the definition of misappropriation in California can be quite complex - meaning that the slightest change in circumstances could be the difference between misappropriation or not. A knowledgeable trade secret attorney can help provide guidance on whether or not you may be entitled to damages following a trade secret misappropriation.
Source: Reuters, "U.S. prosecutors dealt setback in China economic espionage case," Dan Levine, July 23, 2012