Tuesday, September 08, 2009, 9/08/2009 02:45:00 PM

DuPont Terminates, Then Sues, Chinese Employee For Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets

By Todd

Delaware Online is reporting that the DuPont Co. has filed a lawsuit against -- and fired -- a Chinese-born employee who was allegedly about to leave Delaware and return to China with company trade secrets.


The suit, filed in late August in the Delaware Court of Chancery, accuses Hong Meng of breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets -- specifically research into a paper-thin computer display technology called an "organic light emitting diode" or OLED.

The suit alleges Meng was planning to take the proprietary information to his alma mater, Peking University in Beijing, which is involved in research on OLED technology.According to the lawsuit, Meng, while still employed at DuPont, secretly accepted a position at Peking University without informing DuPont or obtaining consent sometime in early 2009, in violation of the terms of an employment agreement that he signed.

At the same time, Meng was scheduled to be transferred from his position in Delaware to one at DuPont's operations in China.

The lawsuit did not specify where in China or which job he was to take.

As part of the transfer process, Meng's hard drive was reviewed by company officials "and his illicit connection to Peking University was discovered."

Furthermore, DuPont discovered that Meng had downloaded confidential company files related to OLED from his company laptop to an external hard drive.

When confronted by DuPont security officials in interviews on Aug. 18 and 19, Meng at first denied, then admitted, downloading the files and surrendered the external hard drive to company officials, according to the suit.

He also agreed to surrender his personal computer, where more confidential files were discovered, according to court papers, as well as details of his dealings with Peking University.

The company claims Meng, who allegedly also admitted his dealings with Peking University after first denying them, was working on a program at the school to "commercialize OLED technology for industrial applications in direct competition with DuPont."

The lawsuit says DuPont's investigation of Meng is continuing, but in the meantime it is seeking a court order requiring Meng to abide by the terms of his employment agreement with DuPont and barring Meng from releasing any confidential DuPont data.

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