Indianapolis based Eli Lilly and Company sent two of its former employees behind bars and a third one, being referred to as 'individual number one', under further investigation.
Cao Guoqing and Li Shuyu were arrested last week in Indianapolis, possibly visiting families during the week long Chinese holidays, on charges of theft and conspiracy to commit theft. Both are currently working for a Chinese Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine based in China.
In a statement, Lilly said the trade secrets allegedly stolen all involve early-state research, with no significantly impact. The stolen information is valued $55 million by Lilly.
Lilly had been having problems to produce market worthy research.
It is very difficult to assess the value of an 'early state research', especially in medicine development.
Hengrui had been aggressively,sometimes appearing boldly, recruiting talents from overseas. The current deputy general manager Zhang Lianshan also joined Henghui after left Lilly in 2009. Another senior executive Zheng Yuqun who departed Henghui recently was also a former Lilly employee.
This is not the first time the two companies went to court. Lilly lost an earlier patent claim against Hengrui in 2000.
Insiders see Lilly's most recent move a retaliation on crackdown of business bribery charges brought up by Chinese authorities. Lilly was found to spent $5 million a year to bride Chinese doctors to subscribe its drugs rather than its competitors.