[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Eco Espioniage



Company Fined $5 Million for
        Stealing Secrets 
        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
        battery labels. 

        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
        probation. 

        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
        imposed. 

        "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.