Friday, April 23, 2021

Former Eastman Chemist Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Trade Secret Theft

From the Department of Justice on Thursday, this press release: 
A federal jury in Greeneville, Tennessee, convicted a U.S. citizen today of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, economic espionage and wire fraud.

Following a twelve-day trial, Dr. Xiaorong You, aka Shannon You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud. You was originally indicted in February 2019 for trade secret offenses and wire fraud, and was charged in a superseding indictment with  economic espionage and conspiracy to commit economic espionage in August 2020.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, You stole valuable trade secrets related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings for the inside of beverage cans. You was granted access to the trade secrets while working at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee. The stolen trade secrets belonged to major chemical and coating companies including Akzo-Nobel, BASF, Dow Chemical, PPG, Toyochem, Sherwin Williams, and Eastman Chemical Company, and cost nearly $120,000,000 to develop.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, You stole the trade secrets to set up a new BPA-free coating company in China. You and her Chinese corporate partner, Weihai Jinhong Group, received millions of dollars in Chinese government grants to support the new company (including a Thousand Talents Plan award). Documents related to You’s Thousand Talents Program application were admitted at trial; those documents, and other evidence presented at trial, showed the defendant’s intent to benefit not only Weihai Jinhong Group, but also the governments of China, the Chinese province of Shandong, and the Chinese city of Weihai, as well as her intent to benefit the Chinese Communist Party.
Here's the writeup of her 2019 indictment at C&EN (article by Melody Bomgardner): 
A federal grand jury has indicted an American materials scientist and a Chinese national for stealing trade secrets related to formulas for bisphenol A-free coatings. The technology was developed by several companies and a major customer as part of an effort to replace food and beverage can linings made with BPA-containing epoxies because of concerns about human health effects of BPA....

“Eastman takes protection of its intellectual property seriously and we have controls in place to help prevent and to detect theft of confidential information,” Eastman’s chief legal officer, David A. Goldman, tells C&EN. “Those controls worked in this case, and we have been cooperating with law enforcement in this matter for some time.”

You would have thought that there would be more coverage of the trial, but there really hasn't been, and so we don't have a sense as to the strength of the government's case, other than the fact that Dr. You was convicted. The "Money" aspect of Money Ideology Compromise Ego seems pretty strong here. Will be interesting to see what her sentence turns out to be. 


  1. This as well:

  2. The whole thing with BPA-free beverage can coatings is asinine. Non-scientists who don't understand chemical nomenclature have a panic attack when they see "diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A" (i.e. the most common type of epoxy resin, whose structure is analogous to Bisphenol A). That's like thinking "tetracholoromethane" has methane in it.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20