One Chinese National and One American Indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Trade Secrets

Greeneville, TN–Xiaorong You, a/k/a Shannon You, 56, of Lansing, Michigan, and Liu Xiangchen, 61, of Shandong Province, China, were indicted by a grand jury on February 12 for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secret information (TSI) related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings.  You was also indicted on seven counts of theft of trade secrets and one count of wire fraud. 

The BPA-free TSI allegedly stolen by these individuals belonged to multiple owners and cost an estimated total of $119,600,000 to develop. Until recently, bisphenol-A (BPA) was used to coat the inside of cans and other food and beverage containers to help minimize flavor loss and prevent the container from corroding or reacting with the food or beverage contained therein.  However, due to the potential for BPA to be harmful to human health, companies began searching for BPA-free alternatives. These alternatives are difficult and expensive to develop.

From December 2012 through August 31, 2017, You was employed as Principal Engineer for Global Research by a company in Atlanta, Georgia, which had agreements with numerous companies to conduct research and development, testing, analysis, and review of various BPA-free technologies.  Due to her extensive education and experience with BPA and BPA-free coating technologies, she was one of a limited number of employees with access to TSI belonging to the various owners.  

From approximately September 2017 through June 2018, You was employed as a packaging application development manager for a company in Kingsport, Tennessee, where she was one of a limited number of employees with access to TSI belonging to that company.

According to the indictment, You, Xiangchen, and a third co-conspirator formulated a plan in which You would exploit her employment with the two American employers to steal TSI and provide the information for the economic benefit of persons other than the TSI owners, including a Chinese company that would manufacture and profit from products developed using the stolen TSI.