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30 January 2019Americas

Chinese national jailed for stealing medical devices tech

A US district court has sentenced a Chinese national to 27 months in federal prison for the theft of trade secrets from two American medical device manufacturers.

Wenfeng Lu pled guilty to six counts of unauthorised possession and attempted theft of trade secrets last May. He was sentenced in the US District Court of the District of Southern California on Monday, January 28.

The conviction relates to Lu’s tenure at a research facility in Irvine, California, where he worked for both ev3, now a subsidiary of medical devices company Medtronic, and Edwards Lifesciences from 2009 to 2012.

According to a US Department of Justice (DoJ)  press release, Lu copied “numerous documents” containing trade secrets and technological information owned by both companies.

Lu was planning to return to China, where he had secured RMB 2 million ($298,000) in funding to set up a new company that would, using the stolen technology, manufacture devices used to treat vascular problems.

The prospective company had secured three rent-free years in a research facility in Nanjing Province, as well as funding to secure “technological talent from places such as the United States”, according to the DoJ.

US prosecutors claimed that “the money and laboratory space was part of a programme sponsored by the PRC government to encourage scientists of Chinese descent to return to the PRC with intellectual property to develop biomedical technology in the PRC”.

Lu was arrested in November 2012 as he prepared to board a plane to China.

The sentencing comes amid a US backlash against China for its alleged sponsoring of corporate espionage.

In October 2018, sister publication WIPR  reported that the DoJ had charged a Chinese Ministry for State Security operative with economic espionage and stealing trade secrets from US aviation companies.

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