Two US giants Pfizer and Deere bring trade secret and patent infringement cases against Chinese companies

 Case 1:

Pfizer, Inc. on February 2 filed a lawsuit with the District Court for the District of Connecticut accusing two former employees of theft of trade secrets for diabetes and obesity treatments.


The complaint said Zhong Min and Qiu Xiayang stole the "playbook" and critical data for the treatment and then created Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Regor Therapeutics to commercialize their own version.


Eli Lilly & Co. in December, 2021 said it was investing up to $50 million in Regor's business in a licensing deal that could eventually reach $1.5 billion based on milestones and royalties. Eli Lilly isn't named as a defendant in the complaint.


New York-based Pfizer asked the court for damages, an order for Zhong and Qiu to assign their patent applications to the company, and a ban on the use of its trade secrets.


The complaint said Zhong and Qiu had been working at Pfizer since the early 2000s, and that Qiu's work focused on discovering new therapeutic compounds, while Zhong worked with outside researchers to analyze compound samples from toxicology studies. The complaint also said Zhong and Qiu plotted to steal Pfizer's trade secrets in 2018 while they were still at the company, meeting with potential collaborators in China, drafting contracts related to Regor, and allegedly founding the company before leaving Pfizer later that year.


Pfizer also named as a defendant a second company created by Zhong and Qiu and backed by China's Qilu Pharmaceutical Co., Shanghai-based QILU Regor Therapeutics (上海齐鲁锐格医药研发有限公司), for misusing its trade secrets. 


Defendants Zhong and Qiu on March 18 filed an answer to the complaint and several counterclaims against Pfizer before the trial court. They argued that Regor’s chief technical officer Zhong Wenge, a former employee of US multinational biopharmaceutical company Amgen, Inc., led the team’s original research and development on the allegedly infringing treatments. They claimed that Regor’s over 30 applications for patents for 10 treatments had been granted since its inception in 2018.


The case is 3:22-cv-00190, Pfizer, Inc. v. Regor Therapeutics Inc. et al.


Case 2:

US agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere & Co. in late 2021 lodged a patent infringement lawsuit with the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region against Chinese rival Xinjiang Swan Modern Agricultural Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. (新疆天鹅现代农业机械装备有限公司), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shandong Swan Cotton Industrial Machinery Stock Co. (山东天鹅棉业机械股份有限公司). The court is to hear the case soon.


Founded in 1946, Swan Cotton is a STAR Market-listed company specializing in the research and development, manufacturing, and distribution of cotton processing equipment and accessories. John Deere & Co. dating back to 1837 is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The corporation has been ranked among Fortune 500 America’s top companies as well as global top ones as a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, heavy equipment, forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment.


Deere accused Swan Modern of manufacturing and distributing 3-row and 6-row round baler cotton pickers embodying some parts infringing its pattern No. ZL200410085674.2 covering a baler gate linkage and latch structure. Deere filed an application for the patent in 2004 with the China National Intellectual Property Administration, which was granted in 2009. Swan Modern launched the two allegedly infringing models of products in 2021 and their sales were estimated to account for 25% to 35% of the company’s total revenue of 2021.


The case docket no. is(2021)新01知民初55号, whose English transliteration is 55, first instance (初), civil case (民), intellectual property (知), (2021) Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region ((2021)新01).