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Composition of a Chinese Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise: Case Study – Part 4 of 5

Last month the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced the second guilty plea from one of five individuals charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a U.S. pharmaceutical company. According to the press release the theft occurred in order to benefit a Chinese company backed by the Chinese government.

This post is Part 4 of 5 in which we continue to examine the details of this trade secrets theft enterprise. Please see the following links to read the previous three Parts: Part 1Part 2 – Part 3


This FBI criminal investigation was initiated like so many others–somebody heard the criminal directly or indirectly brag about what they were doing.

Here’s essentially a quote from the criminal complaint:

“Informant #1 stated that Defendant #1 (“Joyce’s”) twin sister (and also a defendant) bragged about being hired by a Chinese pharmaceutical company and stated she was being paid very generously.

“Informant #1 also stated that their mother, who resides in the People’s Republic of China, was also being paid approximately $165,000. a year from a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

“Joyce’s twin sister bragged to Informant #1 that a ‘big payday’ was coming in the future from the Chinese pharmaceutical company.”


  • FBI served search warrants on Google for personal e-mail account information for all five defendants which was subsequently provided
  • Search warrants were issued to search the work areas of the two GSK employee-defendants to include their computers
  • GSK scientists assisted the FBI in identifying proprietary GSK trade secrets embedded in the defendants’ emails
  • The FBI also retained an independent expert (not associated with GSK) who came to the same conclusion


Although we don’t know how this informant came to the FBI’s attention from a review of public court records, it appears the informant overheard, or, had a conversation with “Joyce’s” twin sister. But, regardless of where it occurred, we cannot overstate the fundamental importance of employees in such trade-secrets-packed companies to pay attention to what others say around them.

“If you hear something, say something.”

Don’t immediately dismiss absurd sounding comments–as absurd. Often criminals cannot help telling others how smart they think they are.

Trade secrets protection “mindfulness” is key.


…we will update the status of the defendants (to the extent that information’s available), and share some final thoughts about this endemic problem and how companies can shield against it.


Disclaimer: is offered as a service to the professional IP community. While every effort has been made to check information in this blog, we provide no guarantees or warranties, express or implied, with regard to content provided in We disclaim any and all liability and responsibility for the qualification or accuracy of representations made by the contributors or for any disputes that may arise. It is the responsibility of the readers to independently investigate and verify the credentials of such person and the accuracy and validity of the information provided by them. This blog is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice.


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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

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