Former Eli Lilly Scientists Indicted For $55 Million Trade Secret Theft

Posted On Friday, October 11, 2013
By: John A. Schwab

In an indictment unsealed on Tuesday in an Indiana federal court, the government alleged that two former Eli Lilly scientists, Guoqin Cao and Shuya Li, forwarded company trade secrets to a competing Chinese research firm, Jiangsu Hangui Medicine Co., Ltd.  The trade secrets – valued at $55 million – included sensitive information regarding nine experimental drug research programs at Eli Lilly.  The trade secrets related to treatments for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and were allegedly forwarded by the scientists via e-mail to a third person, who the indictment only referred to as Individual #1. 

This case is part of a larger effort by the DOJ’s Task Force on Intellectual Property, which was created to combat a growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, including theft of corporate trade secrets.  This case also represents the second prosecution in the Southern District of Indiana for economic espionage.  In 2010, Kexue Huang, a Chinese national and research scientist with Dow AgroSciences LLC, was charged with stealing and transporting trade secrets to the People’s Republic of China.  The next year, Huang was indicted in the District of Minnesota for stealing trade secrets from another company, Cargill Inc.