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Intellectual property theft by former NPIC employees sentenced to 6 months in federal prison

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PLANO, Texas – Two former employees of NPIC, Jie Zhu and Pinghua Lei, pleaded guilty and were convicted for theft of trade secrets in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on August 19, 2020. Zhu and Lei were both sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment and 36 months of probation thereafter.

Zhu had worked at NPIC for over 10 years as the head of R&D department before he was recruited by Gambol Pet USA, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gambol Pet Group Co, Ltd, in late 2017 and a competitor of NPIC in pet treats production and sales.

Both Zhu and Lei, a R&D process engineer at NPIC for several years, illegally downloaded all the R&D and Process data from NPIC’s server without authorization prior to their departure from NPIC. The data downloaded by Zhu and Lei was subsequently transferred to numerous electronic storage devices, and to the computers used by Zhu and Lei to perform work for Gambol Pet USA, Inc.

Zhu and Lei both admitted to using NPIC’s R&D and Process data in the course of their work as the Chief Operating and Technology Officer (Zhu) and R&D Manager and Senior Scientist (Lei) at Gambol Pet USA, Inc.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Andrew Stover, Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Civil litigation is ongoing between NPIC and Gambol Pet Group Co, Ltd, Gambol Pet USA, Inc. along with the Chinese-based CEO of Gambol Pet USA, Inc. and the R&D Director for Gambol Pet Group Co, Ltd. In the civil litigation, NPIC asserted claims of misappropriation of trade secrets against the Gambol defendants stemming from the actions of Zhu and Lei and the Gambol defendants as their alleged co-conspirators.


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