Small Business Tip: Protect Your Business Secrets



The following is a post by Glenn Levar of Shared Time Human Resources Management.  Motorola Solutions, Inc. was close to having some trade secrets stolen by a Chinese spy.  Many of us know this doesn’t pertain to our small businesses, BUT if we don’t use confidentiality agreements to protect our own “secret sauce”, employees or friends of employees can go into competition with us.  Tread carefully.


A former software engineer for Motorola Solutions Inc. was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison for stealing Motorola trade secrets, the Department of Justice said.

Hanjuan Jin, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, was secretly working for Sun Kaisens, a Chinese company that developed telecommunications technology for the Chinese military, when she was stopped by U.S. customs officials at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from traveling on a one-way ticket to China Feb. 28, 2007. Officials seized more than 1,000 Motorola documents found in Ms. Jin's possession as she attempted to leave the country.

Some of the documents provided a detailed description of how Motorola provides a specific communication feature the company incorporates into its products sold throughout the world. Officials also recovered classified Chinese military documents that described certain telecommunications projects for the Chinese military as well as about $30,000 in U.S. currency.

Ms. Jin, 41 years old, was a software engineer for Motorola Inc., now Motorola Solutions, for nine years. She was convicted of three counts of theft of trade secrets in February following a five-day bench trial in November. U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo found Ms. Jin not guilty of three counts of economic espionage, but he found Ms. Jin was "willing to betray her naturalized country."

According to the evidence, Ms. Jin took a medical leave of absence in February 2006, during which she pursued employment with Sun Kaisens. Between November 2006 and February 2007, Ms. Jin returned to China to work for Sun Kaisens on projects for the Chinese military.  Nathalie Tadena August 29, 2012.

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