A federal judge has ruled that two companies in China and a U.S. company must face a trade secrets lawsuit by Philips.
Philips claims that two former employees who joined GL Leading, an Aurora, Ill.-based firm allegedly formed from a pair of related companies in China, stole proprietary information about certain Philips’ X-ray tubes. Philips is also suing those former employees, Jose Buan and Sherman Jen, as well as the Chinese companies, Kunshan Yiyuan Medical Technology and Kunshan Guoli Electronic Technology,
Philips alleges that in late December 2017, Buan copied more than 800 of Philips’ files, “including trade secret and other confidential business information” onto portable drives, according to the order by Judge Marvin E. Aspen.
“A subsequent investigation revealed that Buan took ‘a trove’ of additional files containing ‘confidential and trade secret technical and business information pertaining to the 2XXX series X-ray tubes, and other important Philips X-ray technologies, including Philips iMRC X-ray tubes,” wrote Aspen, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Jen began working “under the table” with Guoli before GL Leading’s formation and before he left Philips, “at least as of August 2017,” Philips claims, included R&D planning, visiting a Guoli manufacturing site in China, instructing the copying of certain of Philips’ proprietary materials, and asking Philips employees to join GL Leading. Jen became prinicipal engineer at GL Leading, Philips adds.
Philips alleges that GL Leading, Guoli and Yiyuan are all competitors and that two of their x-ray tube products are meant to “replace, operate similarly to, or be interchangeable with” certain of Philips’ x-ray tubes. The company also alleges “a high degree of inter-relatedness between GL Leading, Guoli, and Yiyuan, and (that) all played a role in the misappropriate and misuse of Plaintiffs’ proprietary information,” Aspen wrote.
Guoli argues that it was not “directly involved” in the formation of GL Leading, and both Chinese companies dispute that they control, have been “acting in concert” with or exert significant financial control over GL Leading.
Aspen denied Guoli’s and Yiyuan’s motions to dismiss Philips’ lawsuit.