On May 9th, 2022, a federal judge in Greeneville, Tennessee, sentenced a Michigan woman, known as Xiarong You, to 168 months in prison, the equivalent of 14 years, for trade secret theft, economic espionage and fraud. The defendant was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay a $200,000 fine.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Xiarong You allegedly stole valuable trade secrets related to formulations for bisphenol-A (BPA)-free coatings, a substance generally applied inside beverage cans and food containers to minimise flavour loss and prevent the container from corroding or reacting with the food or beverage contained therein. However, many corporations have begun experimenting with alternatives to the above substance due to proven health risks for humans.
The trial focused not only on the conduct of the former employee, but also on the security measures put in place by Coca-Cola and Eastman Chemical Company, respectively, in order to protect their confidential information.
In particular, from December 2012 to August 2017, Xiarong You was employed as Principal Engineer for Global Research at Coca-Cola…