SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon livestock company has won an injunction against a former employee accused of stealing trade secrets to start his own company in China.
OmniGen Research of Corvallis, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit saying that scientist Yongqiang Wang is trying to sell knock-offs of its feed additives in violation of confidentiality agreements, The Capital Press reported (https://is.gd/SCjwjL).
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane has ordered Wang and his wife, as well as the companies under their control, to stop using any of Omnigen's copyrighted materials and trade secrets. The preliminary injunction also instructs them to return all materials pertaining to Omnigen's technology, and turn over their electronic media.
Omnigen was founded in 2002 by Oregon State University professor Neil Forsberg and his graduate student, Steve Puntenney, who developed patented feed additives aimed at counteracting hemmorhagic bowel syndrome in dairy cows.
A decade later, the firm was bought for nearly $23 million by the Phibro Animal Health Corp., a publicly-traded company based in New York.
About 20 percent of the U.S. dairy cow herd is treated with Omnigen products, which are also catching on in several foreign countries and have received regulatory approval to be sold in China, according to Phibro financial documents.
According to Omnigen's lawsuit, cofounder Forsberg took Wang "under his wing" when Wang was an Oregon State graduate student and asked him to join the company.
"However, at some point, Wang apparently decided he owed no loyalty to OmniGen Research," the complaint said. "So, while continuing to work at OmniGen Research, he shirked his contractual and fiduciary obligations to secretly form two businesses, Bioshen and Mirigen, to compete with OmniGen Research with the help of his wife and associates."
Wang allegedly took out a "sham" patent in China for products with similar ingredients as Omnigen's, the complaint said.
Last year, the companies formed by Wang held a symposium on livestock health in China at which he presented Omnigen's "illegally copied" copyrighted slides, the complaint said.
In response to the complaint, Wang denies he relied on any of Omnigen's trade secrets or confidential information.
Omnigen's methods of testing feed additives, as well as its "processes for making additives, sourcing ingredients, mixing ingredients, ingredient ratios and scientific knowledge" do not qualify as trade secrets, according to Wang's response.
Information from: Capital Press, http://www.capitalpress.com/washington