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Corporate Espionage Former Dow Employee Is Found Guilty Of Stealing Trade Secrets

by Alexander H. Tullo
February 14, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 7

Closing a case that is more than a decade old, a federal jury in Baton Rouge, La., has convicted Dow Chemical researcher Wen Chyu Liu, also known as David W. Liou, of stealing trade secrets and selling them to Chinese firms.

Liu, 74, worked for Dow from 1965 until his retirement in 1992. Prosecutors said during the trial that after retirement he conspired with current and former Dow employees at the firm’s Plaquemine, La., and Stade, Germany, sites to steal trade secrets pertaining to the elastomer chlorinated polyethylene.

Liu also traveled extensively in China to market plant process designs, prosecutors allege, and even went so far as to bribe a Dow employee with $50,000 for access to a process manual.

Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Liu faces 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit trade-secret theft and five years for perjury.

“American industries thrive on innovation, and they invest substantial resources in developing new products and technology,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer says. “We will not allow individuals to steal the technology and products that U.S. companies have invested years of time and considerable money to create.”

Dow closed its Plaquemine chlorinated polyethylene plant in 2009 but continues to operate in Germany. Dow’s major rival is the Chinese firm Yaxing Chemical. To establish its presence, Yaxing bought a plant from Hoechst in Knapsack, Germany; dismantled it; and reassembled it in China about 20 years ago.

The Liu trial isn’t the only trade-secret case related to Dow. Last July, the FBI arrested Ke-xue Huang, a 45-year-old ex-Dow AgroSciences researcher, on counts of theft of trade secrets and foreign transportation of stolen property.


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