Unitalen Representing Company A Won the Case of Dispute over Technical Secret Infringement Against its Former Employees and the Third-Party Company B

May 18, 2022

Case Brief:

Company A is the first innovator to start the research and development of new energy vehicles in China. In March 2011, the defendant Zhang X joined Company A and served as the executive deputy director of New Energy Center, the director of the Center, and the vice president of the Passenger Vehicle Design Institute. During the tenure, the defendant Zhang X, together with the outsiders in the case, established Company B, which was highly competitive with Company A. The defendant Zhang X received 45% of the shares with technique in the name of his younger brother, and lured a number of core technical personnel for job-hopping from Company A to Company B. In December 2013, after Zhang X resigned from Company A, he immediately joined Company B serving as a senior executive. In only about a month, Zhang X, as one of the inventors, and Company B, as a patent applicant, filed more than 80 patent applications with the CNIPA. Zhang X and Company B were suspected of illegally disclosing the technical secrets of Company A, and Company B was also suspected of using Company A's technical secrets in its foreign business cooperation projects.

In order to protect its legitimate rights and interests, Company A filed a case concerning patent ownership dispute and technical secret infringement dispute with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court.

Typical Significance:

This case is a typical IP infringement dispute caused by corporate executive's job-hopping, involving patent ownership disputes and technical secret infringement disputes. In this case, the plaintiff actively provided evidence for its own existing technical research and development materials and process, the technical information involved meets the requirements for trade secrets, and the technical information disclosed by Company B's patent application and used by Company B in foreign business projects was compared with that of Company A to preliminarily prove that Company B had a great possibility of infringement. In the case that Company B had no good cause to prove the legitimate source of its technique or independent research and development, the court reasonably presumed that the ownership of the patent right in the case shall belong to Company A, and Company B's act of infringing trade secrets was established.