JHL Biotech founders convicted of conspiring to steal Genentech trade secrets – Reuters

The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured, in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

  • Convicted of misusing trade secrets to copy blockbuster Genentech drugs
  • Pleaded guilty to trade-secret, wire-fraud conspiracy under agreement
  • JHL and Genentech settled civil case last year

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(Reuters) – Racho Jordanov and Rose Lin, co-founders of Taiwanese biopharmaceutical company JHL Biotech, have been convicted in a San Francisco federal court of conspiring to steal trade secrets related to blockbuster drugs made by Roche’s Genentech Inc, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Jordanov, 73, and Lin, 72, admitted to hiring former Genentech employees and using their stolen information to copy its cancer and cystic-fibrosis drugs, as well as defrauding JHL’s planned manufacturing partner, French drugmaker Sanofi, out of $101 million, DOJ said in a Thursday press release.

Jordanov and Lin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit trade-secret theft and wire fraud on Tuesday under an agreement that dismisses other claims against them if they comply with its terms, the DOJ said. They had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in July.

Text of the plea agreements wasn’t immediately available.

DOJ declined to comment. JHL, now known as Eden Biologics, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Jordanov’s attorneys Edward Swanson and Britt Evangelist of Swanson & McNamara or Lin’s attorneys Miles Ehrlich and Amy Craig of Ramsey & Ehrlich.

Jordanov and Lin, who formerly worked at Genentech, schemed to steal San Francisco-based Genentech’s trade secrets between 2011 and 2019, according to DOJ’s announcement. They co-founded JHL in 2012 and allegedly used the secrets to speed the development of its biosimilars.

JHL made biosimilars of Genentech’s cystic fibrosis drug Pulmozyme and cancer drugs Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin, according to the indictment. The cancer drugs are some of Roche’s most commercially successful, each bringing in over $4 billion in sales last year.

Jordanov and Lin also admitted to defrauding Sanofi into a strategic partnership by concealing that JHL’s biosimilars were based on the stolen trade secrets.

Xanthe Lam, a former principal scientist for Genentech who secretly worked for JHL, and her husband Allen Lam pleaded guilty in July to stealing trade secrets from the company and passing them to competitors including JHL.

Genentech and JHL settled a related civil trade-secret case last year for an undisclosed amount of money and an agreement for JHL to stop using the offending technology.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup will preside over Jordanov and Lin’s sentencing on December 7.

The case is United States v. Jordanov, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 3:21-cr-0227.

For DOJ: Adam Reeves and Sheila Armbrust

For Jordanov: Edward Swanson and Britt Evangelist of Swanson & McNamara

For Lin: Miles Ehrlich and Amy Craig of Ramsey & Ehrlich

Read more:

JHL Biotech founders indicted for stealing Genentech trade secrets

Genentech finalizes settlement in trade secrets fight with Taiwanese rival

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

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