Trade Secret Theft in China

I am delighted that a short paper of mine (co-authored with Donal O’Connell) on the subject of ‘Trade Secret Theft in China’ has been posted on the IP Strategy blog. The paper briefly explains trade secrets before then describing the various scenarios in which foreign companies may find themselves. We suggest that some of the scenarios described are clear examples of trade secret theft but others less so, if not at all.   Any and all feedback is most welcome.

Outsourced Manufacturing and Trade Secrets: An Economic Overview (Part 1)

Since the beginning of the industrial age, companies have outsourced part of the manufacturing process to third-party providers. In the twentieth century, as manufacturing processes became more complex and distribution more global, this trend accelerated.

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China’s anti-monopoly law as a weapon against foreigners

I am very pleased I can now share the article that I co-authored with Doug Clark. The article first appeared in IAM Issue 92, published by Globe Business Media Group – IP Division. To view the issue in full, please go to

To read the article please click here.

Trade Secret Theft in China


By David Cohen & Donal O’Connell

The headlines:

“China national charged with stealing trade secrets” – U.S. Justice Department

“Chinese battery expert is charged with stealing trade secrets from US employer, as he prepared to join mainland firm” – South China Morning Post

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A Short History of Vringo’s Battle with ZTE

A Short History of Vringo’s Battle with ZTEThis paper was originally written as a source material for my presentation at the ABA’s 2017 IP West as part of the The China Paradox – October 11-12, 2017, Long Beach, CA, and subsequently edited and supplemented.

I.                The Vringo Background

The following paper is a short history of the thirty-nine-month battle between Vringo, Inc. and ZTE Corporation. Vringo (now called FORM Holdings) was a technology company that became involved in the worldwide patent wars.[1] The company won a 2012 intellectual property lawsuit against Google, in which a U.S. District Court ordered Google to pay 1.36 percent of U.S. AdWords sales. Analysts estimated Vingo’s judgment against Google to be worth over $1 billion.[2] The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the District Court’s ruling on appeal in August 2014 in a split 2-1 decision,[3] which Intellectual Asset Magazine called “the most troubling case of 2014.”[4] Vingo also pursued worldwide litigation against ZTE Corporation in twelve countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, India, Spain, Netherlands, Romania, China, Malaysia, Brazil and the United States.[5] The high profile nature of the intellectual property suits filed by the firm against large corporations known for anti-patent tendencies has led some commentators to refer to the firm as a patent vulture or patent troll.[6] Read more

US Trade Secrets vs. Chinese Injunctions

In a case designed to hit as many buttons as possible of IP futurists,  a suit in the US for theft of trade secrets under DTSA responded to with a patent lawsuit and injunction request in China.  Should be interesting to see how this turns out.

Huawei and ZTE security issues, again

“US lawmakers have long worried about the security risks posed the alleged ties between Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and the country’s government. To that end, Texas Representative Mike Conaway introduced a bill last week called Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which aims to ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from the companies.”

Trade Secrets in China

I would have thought so.  Probably in Chinese companies’ own interests to make sure trade secret protections are strong as well.  From the article: A senior executive at Taiwanese memory chipmaker Nanya Technology said Tuesday that Chinese rivals will face increasing global scrutiny over trade secret violations as Beijing aggressively builds up a domestic semiconductor industry in large part by acquiring foreign companies and poaching talent. “These emerging Chinese competitors will face stricter reviews on how they obtain memory chip technology and whether they are involved in trade secret theft,” said President Lee Pei-Ing of Nanya Tech.

Huawei has the patent advantage for 4G-LTE in China – Why is this a surprise?

While Qualcomm has a virtually unassailable lead globally (nearly double Samsung its closest rival), in China with 18% of global 4G-LTE patents are Chinese rights (second only the US) it is effectively tied with Huawei.

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Border Seizures in China?

A number of years ago I was involved in a small little monetization campaign where we utilized European and other anti-piracy laws to seize equipment that infringed our patents.  During one of their seizures our team was inspecting impounded equipment to determine infringement and at the same time local customs officials were showing a rather large Chinese delegation around explaining how the European anti-piracy laws work and how their can be used for utility patents as well.

I guess they learned from the experience and how…   It was reported recently that that in Shenzhen, local customs administrators, as the result of 73 investigations, have seized 260,000 export-bound products that infringe patents held by local companies. While it’s a fairly large number, it could be that many of the seizures stem from design patents, infringement of which would be more straightforward for customs officers to spot.  Apparently SEP owners have been able to do the same, though with less fanfare.