Saturday, April 24, 2021

Meanwhile, in Intellectual Property: Coca-Cola Chemist Convicted Of Stealing $120 Million In Trade Secrets

 We've been down this road before, see after the jump.

And from the Lansing State Journal via the Detroit Free Press:

Lansing chemist convicted of stealing $120 million in trade secrets for Chinese company

A Lansing chemist was convicted Thursday of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, economic espionage and wire fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Xiaorong You, also known as Shannon You, was convicted after a 12-day trial of stealing trade secrets from Coca-Cola and Eastman Chemical Co. when she worked there, according to a DOJ press release. 

You stole trade secrets related to information about BPA-free coatings for the inside of beverage cans and set up her own BPA-free coating company in China, according to the DOJ news release. The stolen trade secrets cost nearly $120 million to develop. 

You and her Chinese corporate partner, Weihai Jinhong Group, received millions of dollars in government grants in China to support the new company, according to the release. 

BPA is used to coat the inside of cans and containers to help minimize flavor loss and stop the container from reacting with the food or beverage inside, according to the DOJ release. But once potential health risks from BPA became known, companies developed BPA-free alternatives, which was a "very expensive and time-consuming process," according to the release.....


Okay, maybe not the same road, maybe a parallel road.

The botched Coca-Cola heist of 2006

From The Hustle, April 2018:
Twelve years ago, a disgruntled Coca-Cola employee tried to sell top-secret Coke documents to Pepsi. The rest reads like something out of a bad spy novel.
On a hot summer afternoon in 2006, Ibrahim Dimson walked swiftly through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport clutching a yellow Girl Scout cookie box stuffed with $30k in rolled-up $50 and $100 bills.
Minutes earlier, he’d handed off an Armani Exchange duffle bag containing dozens of stolen Coca-Cola documents and a vial of a secret formula — all marked “highly confidential” — to “Jerry,” a man who claimed to be a Pepsi executive.

Everything was going according to plan. Dimson and his inside source at Coke had hundreds of trade secrets they planned to sell to Pepsi, and this was just the beginning.
But there was a just one problem: Jerry wasn’t who he claimed to be — and unbeknownst to Dimson and his accomplices, the shit was about to hit the fan.

Woman on the inside At Coca-Cola, secrecy is the lifeblood of corporate culture.
Workers are routinely subjected to security checks. Surveillance cameras dot every corner of the building. Their crown jewel, the original Coke formula, is supposedly locked in a multi-million dollar vault; only two people on Earth know it, and they fly on separate planes when traveling in case of an accident.
 Former Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent, stands in front of a multi-million dollar vault that supposedly hold the secret Coke recipe (via Coca-Cola archives)
In this hyper-secretive culture, Joya Williams was the model employee.
The daughter of a church deacon and a Sunday school superintendent, she’d worked for 3.5 years at Coca-Cola’s largest bottling factory before joining corporate in 2005. As the administrative assistant to the Global Head of Marketing, she was entrusted with sensitive emails, internal documents, and yet-to-be-released products.

But 14 months into her $50k-per-year job, she began to feel she wasn’t being “treated right” — and she formulated a plan to stab them in the back.

Hatching the plan In late 2005, Williams was introduced to a friend of a friend named Edmund Duhaney. A 40-year-old father of three, Duhaney had just gotten out of prison on cocaine charges and was looking for work.
Williams told him she possessed a trove of “highly classified” Coca-Cola documents that would likely be worth money to the company’s major competitor, Pepsi — but she’d signed a non-disclosure agreement and couldn’t deliver the goods herself.

She needed a middle-man, and Duhaney knew just the guy: his buddy Ibrahim Dimson, a young white-collar embezzler and self-proclaimed “charmer” he’d met in prison....