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Composition of a Chinese Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise: A Family Affair – Part 5 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…/composition-of-a-trade-secrets-theft-enterprise-case-study-part-4-of-5

This post is Part 5 of 5 in which we conclude our dive into the composition of the GSK trade secrets theft enterprise.

Please see the following links to read the previous four Parts: Part 1Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4


  • Two of the defendants pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing
  • One is scheduled for a plea hearing later this month
  • One went to trial but the judge recently approved the defendant’s motion for a postponement until after the other defendants are sentenced
  • Unable to determine the status of the fifth defendant


This case reminds us of two fundamental trade secrets protection strategies:

  1.  Establish and maintain a vigorous company email monitoring program; and
  2.  Conduct periodic background checks of employees who have access to complex and valuable trade secrets.

(See the below screenshot of the company registered by the defendants–to facilitate their theft operation–publically listed on the Delaware, Department of State, Division of Corporations site. “RHENOPHARMA.”)

When you consider the potential impact these two basic IP protection strategies could’ve have had in disrupting this trade secrets theft enterprise sooner, similar companies–going forward–should zealously implement those actions.

Instead, the thieves were able to disseminate countless trade secrets from 2012 until on or about November 3, 2015.

Terminating this scheme should not have depended on one informant (as important as informant development is) overhearing or being bragged to. That was an exceptional opportunity (in this case) that companies cannot rely on.


The recent arrest of a Chinese intelligence officer extradited to the U.S. to face charges of attempting to steal trade secrets from U.S. aviation and aerospace companies is a stark reminder of how deeply invested state-sponsored and foreign private entities are in stealing your trade secrets.

Bad actors will go to almost any lengths to steal your IP to avoid a massive commitment to research and development ( R&D) themselves.

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.

5 comments on “Composition of a Chinese Trade Secrets Theft Enterprise: A Family Affair – Part 5 of 5

  1. Tom Manley

    Thank you Ron
    I enjoyed this five part series/ case studies
    Thank You for your pursuit of excellence in this highly specialized field
    Tom Manley
    Special Agent FBI- Retired

  2. Ron, as always, thank you very much for sharing such valuable information!
    Regarding the protection of secrets, apart from the periodic check-up actions for personnel who have access to unprotected information, but which may become an important patent or a utility model, depending on the possibility of the applicable standard; I think it is always very important to have signed legal documents that allow the protection of collaborative actions between different institutes (Collaboration Agreement, Confidentiality Agreement, Transfer of Biological Material Agreement, inclusion in labor contracts of strong and clear clauses of confidentiality), for the purpose of having later a legal support. At the same time, there must be indispensable to have evidences to prove the tract of the information and the violation of rights. All this actions, allows a reinforce of the IP rights, so essential for its owner.

  3. Ron Alvarez

    Yoeslandy, excellent points! Thank you for detailing the various legal documents that would serve to protect the IP rights of the originator. Thank you for your comment!

  4. Pingback: Have You Noticed How Trade Secrets Thieves Are Circumventing Their Employer’s Computer Monitoring System…Lately? – IP PI BLOG

  5. Pingback: Chinese State-Sponsored Espionage (a.k.a. IP Theft) Survey – IP PROBE – Blog

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