Trade secrets are inherently valuable. This property is included in both the federal and the Florida state definition of the term. As such, people often go to great lengths to misappropriate this type of information.
In some cases, people even flee the country in order to sell these secrets and escape justice. This is the fear that Apple has surrounding two employees suspected of stealing trade secrets about next-generation batteries.
Investigators reportedly encountered sensitive documents from other former employers in the possession of both individuals. One allegedly had information from General Electric and missile-related documents from Raytheon. Prosecutors alleged that the other had sensitive ethernet information from Marvell Technology Group.
On this basis, and on testimony that one of the suspected individuals attempted to flee another country to avoid investigation, Apple issued a statement voicing concerns about the continued participation of the defendants in this case. The statement mentioned that intellectual property is the core of Apple’s growth, and that the believed the defendants’ flight from the United States would prevent all the facts from being revealed in court.
As a response, the defense attorney stated that the documents were not as extensive as the prosecution claimed. He also mentioned that both of the defendants had family reasons for visiting China and that there was no risk of their attempt to flee justice.
The defendants are currently being monitored. They pled not guilty to the single count of theft of trade secrets.
As evidenced by this event, litigation surrounding trade secrets is often complicated. There are many steps involved, and there is no such thing as a typical trade-secret case. Is important to take the facts of each specific situation into consideration while dealing with complications as they arise.
Source: “Apple has ‘deep concerns’ that ex-employees accused of theft will flee to China.” Reuters. December 10, 2019.