The U.S. District Court in San Francisco was busy this month sentencing defendants in two of the year’s biggest trade secrets cases.
First, on July 10, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White sentenced Walter Lian-Heen Liew to serve 15 years in prison, to forfeit $27.8 million, and to pay $511,667 in restitution for stealing trade secrets from E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company and then selling them to a state-owned Chinese company. Liew had been convicted in March of this year on more than 20 criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage and trade secret theft.
During Liew’s sentencing hearing, the court indicated that “the 15 year sentence was intended, in part, to send a message that the theft and sale of trade secrets for the benefit of a foreign government is a serious crime that threatens our national economic security.” (Trade Secrets Watch covered the start of his trial in January.)
Next, on July 23, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen sentenced former Korn/Ferry International workers Becky Christian and Mark Jacobson to one year of probation each for their role in assisting former Korn/Ferry International recruiter David Nosal, who had been convicted and sentenced for stealing Korn/Ferry’s International’s trade secrets. We previously have written on Mr. Nosal’s conviction and sentencing. Christian and Jacobson had been indicted with Mr. Nosal, and had later pled guilty to conspiracy to transmit trade secrets and gain access to protected computers without authorization. Christian and Jacobsen received more lenient sentences due to their cooperation with prosecutors, which led to the conviction of Mr. Nosal.
These convictions and sentences provide yet another example of federal authorities’ continued focus on prosecuting crimes involving the theft of trade secrets and on punishing individuals who engage in such unlawful activity.