Chinese firm faces US trial over stolen secrets

Prosecutors say Pangang is seeking patent protection for chloride-route titanium dioxide production obtained through DowDuPont’s stolen secrets. (Bloomberg pic)

SAN FRANCISCO: Documents listing DowDuPont’s secrets for manufacturing the pigment used to make white colouring are so sensitive that US prosecutors aren’t allowing them to be seen by the Chinese firm accused of economic espionage in a seven-year-old criminal case headed toward a trial next year.

Prosecutors said Pangang, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, is seeking patent protection for chloride-route titanium dioxide production using the very secrets stolen by an ex-DuPont engineer and a California-based consultant who were both convicted and sent to prison.

“The government is especially sensitive to restrict access to these documents, which if obtained by the Pangang defendants (through inadvertence or even by state-sponsored hacking similar to that alleged against them) would do tremendous economic damage to the victim in this case,” the US said Tuesday in a court filing.

Prosecutors said Pangang’s attorneys can see the exhibits in a government office, but the company itself can’t view them.

Prosecutors and attorneys for Pangang told the judge in Oakland, California, who’s presiding over the case that they want to schedule a trial to begin in Feb 2020 that may last four to eight weeks.