Friday, October 28, 2022

Former Genentech scientist receives 6 month prison sentence for trade secret theft

Via FiercePharma, the end of the Genentech trade secrets saga: 
After pleading guilty to the crime, it's time to do the time.

A year after a former Genentech staffer and her husband pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from the drugmaker, the two have received six-month prison sentences, plus fines of more than $10,000 each.  

In the years-long case, Xanthe Lam, a former principal scientist for Genentech, and her husband Allen Lam last summer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, plus multiple counts of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, plus other charges, according to documents from the United States District Court in the Northern District of California.

The two must surrender to begin serving their sentence no later than April 10, 2023, the documents show. After release, the defendants will be on supervised release for three years.

In the high-profile case, government prosecutors said the couple stole confidential intellectual property related to Genetech’s top-sellers Rituxan, Herceptin, and Avastin, as well as cystic fibrosis inhalation Pulmozyme. The two then passed the secret info to Taiwanese firm JHL Biotech (now Eden Biologics), to aid in its development of copycats, the suit said.

6 months in federal prison! That should be sufficient to deter other would-be IP thieves, I would think?  


  1. depends on the facility, if it is minimum security "camp" for white collar criminals in Terminas Island, it isn't harsh - they may even have their own little TV set in the cell, and suffer just from boredom and peanut butter sandwiches while there. The main punishment is the cost of the defense, the supervised release terms, and the professional ruin. Also, many people caught in this kind of situation might be forced to plead guilty and serve the minimum term simply because they cannot afford the cost of the trial. There were alleged IP theft cases which has fallen apart - only to have the defendant charged under different crime, e.g. unauthorized computer access (originally intended to be used against hackers rather than wannabe IP thieves). Also, many companies especially smaller biopharma and CROs are paranoid about IP theft and will exaggerate the danger and overstate the evidence of malicious act, simply because they want to make an example of the perpetrators, and at the same time look pro-active in front of the Board, the investors and the clients/

  2. I would think the greatest deterrent would be what Anonymous at 11:12AM mentioned: "professional ruin." I just cannot understand what these people are thinking. They are exceedingly unlikely to get away with this. Jail seems like the easy part.


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