Highly Confidential Information Stolen By Former Cisco Employees

On November 18, plaintiff Cisco filed a complaint against defendants Wilson Chung, James He and Jedd Williams (Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Technology v. Wilson Chung, James He, and Jedd Williams 3:19-cv-07562-JD) for trade secret misappropriation in violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and California Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Cisco is represented by Desmarais, a law firm specializing in intellectual property.

The complaint alleged that Dr. Chung and Mr. He, two former high-level engineers at Cisco, “downloaded thousands of Cisco’s highly confidential and proprietary documents… relating to the design, manufacture, pricing, and market opportunities for both current and unreleased products immediately preceding their departure for a competitor of Cisco.” Dr. Chung and Mr. He had access to confidential information including “design specifications, schematics, source code, product-market analyses, and vendor contract details.” Mr. Williams was a Managing Director in Global Collaboration Sales at Cisco, where he developed sales and marketing strategies and took information to the competitor about such information.

According to the complaint, Dr. Chung used extraneous measures to take over 3,000 highly confidential materials, some of which went on to a competitor’s intranet. He used this confidential information while at a competitor. Further, Dr. Chung destroyed evidence of his wrongdoing after being asked about his actions. Mr. He joined the same competitor; he also misappropriated information because he copied thousands of files containing confidential information. He used these files and deleted them when the wrongdoing was discovered. Mr. Williams misappropriated confidential sales forecasts and business development opportunities before he joined the same competitor as Dr. Chung and Mr. He. The complaint stated that Mr. Williams was offered a position after proposing a go-to-market strategy that was created and fine-tuned at Cisco.

The complaint claimed that the three individuals’ misappropriation has harmed Cisco in its product development, go-to-market strategies, and business opportunities.  

All three defendants allegedly violated the DTSA and the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act because the misappropriated information contained trade secrets. “[T]rade secrets include Cisco technical information such as source code, schematics, design details and specifications, user feedback, design documentation, and features relating to Cisco’s existing and future products.” Dr. Chung, Mr. He, and Mr. Williams have used and continue to possess the misappropriated confidential information. Cisco has sought a preliminary and permanent injunction, compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, among other forms of relief.

While the Cisco complaint does not name the competitor that the three ex-employees went to, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported that they now work at communications equipment supplier Poly.