Ford Motor Company Trade Secrets to China
On Apr. 13, 2011, Xiang Dong Yu, aka Mike Yu, was sentenced in the Eastern District of Michigan to 70 months in prison. Previously, on Nov. 17, 2010, Dong, a product engineer with Ford Motor Company pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Michigan to 2 counts of theft of trade secrets. According to the plea agreement, Yu was a Product Engineer for Ford from 1997 to 2007 and had access to Ford trade secrets, including Ford design documents. In Dec. 2006, Yu accepted a job at the China branch of a U.S. company. On the eve of his departure from Ford and before he told Ford of his new job, Yu copied some 4,000 Ford documents onto an external hard drive, including sensitive Ford design documents. Ford spent millions of dollars and decades on research, development, and testing to develop and improve the design specifications set forth in these documents. On Dec. 20, 2006, Yu traveled to the location of his new employer in Shenzhen, China, taking the Ford trade secrets with him. On Jan. 2, 2007, Yu emailed his Ford supervisor from China and informed him that he was leaving Ford’s employ. In Nov. 2008, Yu began working for Beijing Automotive Company, a direct competitor of Ford. On Oct. 19, 2009, Yu returned to the U.S. Upon his arrival, he was arrested. At that time, Yu had in his possession his Beijing Automotive Company laptop computer. During an examination of that computer, the FBI discovered that 41 Ford system design specifications documents had been copied to the defendant’s Beijing Automotive Company work computer. The FBI also discovered that each of those design documents had been accessed by Yu during the time of his employment with Beijing Automotive Company. This case was investigated by the FBI.