Theft of Trade Secrets
On Dec. 9, 2015 in the Middle District of North Carolina, Dr. Lin Cheng, an American citizen, pled guilty to Count 7 of a Superseding Indictment charging Dr. Cheng with possession of a stolen trade secret. Dr. Cheng was employed by Cree, Inc. from Nov. 2008 to Oct. 2014 as a Scientist. Specifically, Dr. Cheng was the engineering manager for Cree’s fourth generation of MOSFET technology. On Sep. 4, 2014, Cree informed the FBI that on Aug. 27, 2014, Dr. Cheng emailed a file containing Cree’s proprietary information from her work email at Cree to a Gmail account. The file contained the step-by-step process Cree uses to manufacture MOSFET technology. Cree determined that the proprietary and confidential files which were removed by Dr. Cheng from the control of Cree would cause both financial damage and technological loss to Cree. Cree estimated that the development cost for information contained in the file would exceed approximately 61 million dollars. Dr. Cheng also signed a contract to provide consulting services to another company interested in developing silicon carbide MOSFETs without consulting with the Cree’s legal department. The Gmail account that Dr. Cheng forwarded Cree files to was an email account used by Dr. Cheng as a repository for Cree proprietary information forwarded from Dr. Cheng’s work email account and used to communicate with the company that she provided consulting services. This case was investigated by FBI and Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General.