A now former Pfizer employee is playing nice after the drugmaker sued her in November for the 15-year veteran uploaded more than 12,000 sensitive files — including documents about the company’s hugely successful COVID-19 vaccine — to personal devices and a Google Drive account.
The defendant, Chun Xiao Li, agreed to have Pfizer’s attorneys search her personal emails, Google Drive accounts and any other personal computing devices or accounts that could contain confidential information or trade secrets on Dec. 6, court found. documents submitted Monday.
Pfizer aims to complete the search by December 29, after which it will return Li’s devices and accounts. That same day, Li is required to give Pfizer an affidavit that she has cooperated with the investigation to the best of her ability and that she no longer has any proprietary information or trade secrets. Li must also swear that she has provided all accounts and devices that could have been used to store or transfer the Company’s information, as well as the identities of the people, if any, who may have received that information.
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By January 5, the parties will let the court know whether additional measures need to be taken, the filing said.
Pfizer’s lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Diego late last month, focuses on the company’s BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, as well as two cancer monoclonal antibodies. The lawsuit charges Li with embezzlement of trade secrets, breach of contract and more.
Pfizer says the stolen documents include a “playbook” about the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer’s relationship with BioNTech and presentations related to cancer antibodies, Reuters reports.
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Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine has quickly climbed the ranks this year as the world’s best-selling pharmaceutical product. The shot has netted tens of billions of dollars as of the third quarter, with Pfizer now expecting to hit $35 billion in Comirnaty sales this year.
Pfizer’s lawsuit is just one of many high-profile trade secret cases to be played out this year. In August, two former employees of Roche’s Genentech pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal trade secrets from Genentech, as well as wire fraud.
At the other end of the spectrum, Alvotech recently escaped a trade secret lawsuit that tied AbbVie to the drugmaker’s megablockbuster Humira. In that case, AbbVie alleged that the Icelandic company recruited one of its production heads, who then emailed himself “confidential and proprietary” information about Humira’s production shortly before his departure from Big Pharma. In October, a federal judge in Illinois dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.