A grand jury has indicted two people, an American and a Chinese national, for conspiring to steal trade secrets from Eastman Chemical Company and other companies. 

Xiaorong You, aka Shannon You of Lansing, Michigan, and Liu Xiangchen of Shandong Province, China, are accused of hatching a scheme to steal trade secrets related to bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free coatings) technology. 

BPA was used to coat the inside of cans and other food and beverage containers. But after it was discovered the chemical may be harmful to humans, companies began searching for alternatives. 

Investigators say You was employed from 2012 to 2017 by an Atlanta company that had agreements with other companies to conduct research and development on BPA-free technologies. They say she also worked for a Kingsport-based company from September 2017 through June 2018. 

Eastman Chemical confirms it is the Kingsport-based company referred to in the indictment. 

The indictment claims You, Xiangchen, and another co-conspirator hatched a plan to steal trade secrets from the two companies and provide them to a Chinese manufacturer for a profit. 

According to the indictment, the trade secrets they stole cost an estimated $119,600,000 to develop. 

Eastman’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David A. Golden released this statement to News Channel 11 regarding the indictment:

Eastman confirms that the indictment’s statements about a Kingsport, Tennessee Company are references to Eastman. As an innovation-driven maker of additives and specialty materials, Eastman takes protection of its intellectual property seriously and we have controls in place to help prevent and to detect theft of confidential information. Those controls worked in this case, and we have been cooperating with law enforcement in this matter for some time. However, this case involves someone who worked for Eastman for less than 10 months after 25 years with other US companies, so our involvement with the person and the case was relatively limited. Because of our limited visibility into the specifics of the case, we are not in a position to comment further.