United States v. Jin

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trademarks
  • Date Filed: 02-08-2012
  • Case #: 08 CR 192
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Castillo
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Economic Espionage Act, the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an economic spy intends to supply a trade secret to a benefitting nation.

Hanjuan Jin (“Jin”), a former employee of Motorola, an American telecommunications corporation, was indicted by a federal grand jury with three counts of theft of trade secrets under the Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”), and three counts of economic espionage under the EEA. Contrary to Motorola policy, Jin was employed by Lemko, a competing Chinese telecommunications company. Jin worked in the iDEN department of Motorola, a section that dealt with a second-generation (“2G”) form of walkie talkie-like direct transmission voice messaging. Jin downloaded thousands of documents related to Motorola’s iDEN projects to a thumbdrive. Jin then booked a flight to Beijing from Chicago. The customs officer and two FBI agents found the Motorola documents, along with Chinese Military documents when Jin was stopped for inspection at the airport. Upon finding the confidential and proprietary notice on the top of the documents, the agents contacted Bach, whom told the agents that the documents should not be in her possession. The trial court found that, despite iDEN being a 2G technology no longer used in the USA, it still qualified as a trade secret under the EEA because of the value that could be derived from its future development in other nations. However, the Government had failed to prove that the theft constituted “espionage” because of the inadequate link between the technology and the People’s Republic of China’s need for such technology. Thus, Jin was found GUILTY of theft of trade secrets, and NOT GUILTY of economic espionage.

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