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Monday, November 29, 2021

Pfizer Sues Longtime Employee For Allegedly Downloading Thousands Of Company Files Containing Trade Secrets

Pfizer, a pharmaceutical and biotech company, sued the former employee for violating her confidentiality agreement when she allegedly downloaded thousands of company files, some of which contained trade secrets and confidential information, onto her personal devices and attempted to cover her tracks.

In a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California and received by NBC 7 San Diego, Pfizer accuses longtime employee Chun Xiao Li, deputy director of statistics in the Global Product Development Group, for downloading more than 12,000 files, including many confidential documents, personal Google Drive account and other personal devices from a laptop computer manufactured by the company without permission.

The material Lee allegedly uploaded to her personal devices includes a September 24 presentation titled “E2E Clinical Development + Submissions Playbook,” containing internal assessments and recommendations for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as well as an analysis of why Pfizer’s relationship with BioNTech has been successful. other partnerships, and identifying critical variables for drug research and how to manage it.

According to the complaint, Lee allegedly downloaded the files between October 23-26, 2021.

The complaint alleges that Lee, who was hired in 2006 and worked for Pfizer’s La Jolla, California facility, initially cooperated with the investigation, but then notified Pfizer that she was leaving the company on November 24, 2021.

“Upon learning of Ms. Li’s disturbing behavior, Pfizer approached her with her,” the plaintiffs wrote in the court file. “While Ms. Lee initially pretended to be collaborative, it turned out that Ms. Lee instead misled Pfizer as to what she got, how she took it, when and why she did it, and where the files (and, perhaps others) can be found today. “

The complaint goes on to claim that Lee “went as far as providing the Pfizer security team with a laptop trap, leading Pfizer to believe it was the computer she was using to download 12,000 files from her Google Drive account,” but later this forensic analysis confirmed that it was not the laptop she allegedly used.

In the lawsuit, the fictitious names “REALLY 1 through 5” are used to refer to persons who may have been collaborating with Lee.

“RS. Lee (or someone else, including potentially REALLY 1-5) probably remains the owner of the real computer that stores these 12,000 files,” the lawsuit says.

“Pfizer believes in strong and fair competition. It is this kind of competition that has led Pfizer and its competitors to develop various vaccines against COVID-19 at record speed, ”the lawsuit says. “It would be unfair to allow Ms. Li and anyone she can work with to trade Pfizer’s successes and expertise, whether at Xencor or elsewhere, using numerous confidential Pfizer documents that she has taken without permission and refuses to return. “

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Trade secrets

Pharmaceutical giant sues Lee for misappropriation of trade secrets in violation of the 2016 Trade Secrets Act and California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act; breach of contract; conversion; and infringement of movable property.

Pfizer is also seeking interim restraining orders and injunctions.

The Epoch Times contacted a spokesman for Pfizer and rival pharmaceutical company Xencor for comment.

US District Judge Katie Ann Bentsivengo issued an interim restraining order requested by Pfizer on Tuesday and said the company’s lawyers could check Lee’s accounts and devices.

The judge set a December 9 date for a hearing on the longer injunction.

Lee told NBC 7 on Wednesday that she had no intention of downloading any files and has deleted them since then. She also claims that over 12,000 files did not contain any medical research.

The former Pfizer employee, who has yet to hire a lawyer, also confirmed that she will start working for rival Pfizer Xencor, which is headquartered in Monrovia and San Diego, California.

Pfizer NBC 7 said in a statement that the company is still investigating and filing a civil lawsuit against an employee who it believes incorrectly uploaded thousands of documents ahead of its planned exit from the company.

“Pfizer takes confidential information protection very seriously. Protecting this information is critical to scientific innovation, which ultimately enables us to make breakthroughs for patients, ”the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Xencor told NBC 7, “Xencor is not a party to the lawsuit and has no further comment.”

On Monday, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said they plan to apply for expanded US regulatory approval for their COVID-19 vaccine after new research showed the vaccine remains effective for more than four months.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in a statement that vaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 15 have demonstrated 100 percent effectiveness against COVID-19 in ongoing clinical trials.

To follow

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times with a special focus on the United States.

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