4:40 PM
Nov 07, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Company News

Genentech seeks to block JHL from using trade secrets

Genentech Inc. is asking a federal court to block JHL Biotech Inc. (Zhubei, Taiwan) from making and selling products the company claims benefited from its proprietary information, following the indictment of three former Genentech employees and an associate for stealing trade secrets for the Taiwanese biosimilars company.

Genentech filed the motion Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking an injunction against JHL Biotech; a hearing is set for Dec. 13.

The company will request the court to restrain the defendants from "making, testing, using, promoting, offering to sell, marketing, commercializing, or selling biologics, therapeutics, drugs, and/or products of any kind that utilize, embody, or were developed, in whole or in part, with the benefit or use of any of Genentech’s trade secret information." While JHL co-founder, Co-Chairman, President and CEO Racho Jordanov and co-founder, COO and General Manager Rose Lin were not among those indicted, Genentech listed them as defendants alongside the four who were. According to a complaint filed by Genentech separately, Jordanov worked at Genentech in 1981-2011; Lin was an employee in 1987-2009.

On Oct. 25, a federal grand jury indicted former Genentech employees Xanthe Lam, Allen Lam and James Quach, as well as John Chan, a former JHL formulation scientist who worked closely with Xanthe Lam. The four are accused of stealing trade secrets in order to develop biosimilars of Genentech's Pulmozyme dornase alfa, Rituxan rituximab, Herceptin trastuzumab and Avastin bevacizumab.

According to the indictment, the stolen information includes proprietary analytical methods for ensuring drug safety and efficacy; processes for formulating and testing its products for quality assurance; and procedures and protocols for setting up, calibrating and maintaining manufacturing equipment and facilities.

The indictment details how JHL's co-founders solicited Xanthe Lam and Allen Lam to help the company develop biosimilars designed to compete directly with the four Genentech drugs.

While still employed by Genentech in 2013, Xanthe Lam began transferring Genentech trade secrets to her husband, Allen Lam, a JHL consultant. Xanthe Lam visited JHL facilities in Taiwan in December 2013, and brought her Genentech-issued laptop with her, the indictment says. She continued for several years to download, collect and transfer Genentech confidential documents relating to formulation development and raw material management to her husband and Chan, the indictment says. Quach collected confidential information from Genentech and brought it to JHL after he was fired from the company in 2017, according to Genentech's complaint.

Genentech filed the complaint on Oct. 29, detailing the allegations and requesting a jury trial, as well as unspecified damages.

In its request for damages, Genentech alleged that its trade secrets "helped catapult JHL's business trajectory."

"Taken together as a compilation, the stolen information provides a roadmap for JHL to produce biosimilar versions of Genentech's medicines," the complaint read.

Genentech also alleged that in 2016 and 2017, two additional Taiwanese biotech companies, AP Biosciences Inc. (Taipei, Taiwan) and OBI Pharma Inc. (TPEx:4174), "leveraged Xanthe's access to Genentech's trade secrets for their own benefit, and to compete directly with Genentech's medicines."

In the federal suit, the defendants are slated to appear before U.S. District Judge William Alsup of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Nov. 13.

Genentech is a unit of Roche (SIX:ROG; OTCQX:RHHBY).

User Sign in

Trial Subscription

Get a 4-week free trial subscription to BioCentury Extra

Article Purchase

Purchase this article for limited one-time distribution and website posting

$750 USD