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Company Fined $5 Million for
First Case Under Economic Espionage Act
Jan. 6, 2000
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- A Taiwanese corporation has
been fined $5 million and two of its former executives have
been sentenced in the first case tried under the 1996
Economic Espionage Act.
At a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Peter C.
Economus fined Four Pillars Enterprises Ltd. for stealing trade
secrets from competitor Avery Dennison Corp., an
adhesive-maker based in Pasadena, Calif.
Authorities say a father and daughter who were both executives
received secrets about adhesives used in products such as
self-stick postage stamps, name labels, diaper tape and
Pin Yen Yang, 73, the company's former chief executive,
received six months of house arrest and a $250,000 fine. He
also was put on probation for 18 months.
His daughter, Hwei-Chen "Sally" Yang, 41, a former Four
Pillars executive, was fined $5,000 and received a year of
Maximum fine imposed
"The imposition of the statutory maximum fine of $5 million
should make it perfectly clear that corporate espionage is
unlawful and will be aggressively investigated, prosecuted and
punished," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jim Robinson said.
The key witness in the Four Pillars trial was Victor Lee, an
Avery Dennison research scientist from Taiwan who testified
that he provided Four Pillars with confidential information until
1997, when he was caught. Lee pleaded guilty to wire fraud
and began cooperating with the FBI.
The trial evidence included a secret video the FBI made of a
meeting between Lee and the Yangs, in which Sally Yang cut
the "confidential" stamp off an Avery Dennison report. Pin Yen
Yang then instructed Lee to dispose of the clipping.
The Yangs in April were acquitted of mail fraud but convicted of
violating the industrial espionage act.
Former CEO apologizes
Pin Yen Yang apologized at his sentencing and said it was not
his intention to steal trade secrets.
"I'm deeply sorry for what I've done," Yang said.
Federal prosecutors objected that no prison time was
"Is the message, 'If you steal information from your competitor,
you'll be given a probationary term?'" Assistant U.S. Attorney
David Green said.
Attorneys for both companies declined to comment because
Avery Dennison's civil lawsuit against Four Pillars is scheduled
for trial Monday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.