By Eric Schweibenz
On May 30, 2019, Illinois Tool Works Inc. of Glenview, Illinois (“ITW”), Vesta Global Limited of Hong Kong (“Vesta Global”), Vesta (Guangzhou) Catering Equipment Co., Ltd. of China (“Vesta”), and Admiral Craft Equipment Corp. of Westbury, New York (“Adcraft”) (collectively, “Complainants”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that the following entities (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain foodservice equipment and components thereof that were manufactured using Complainants’ misappropriated trade secrets:

  • Guangzhou Rebenet Catering Equipment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. of China (“Rebenet”)
  • Aceplus International Limited of China (“AcePlus”)
  • Guangzhou Liangsheng Trading Co., Ltd. of China (“Liangsheng”)
  • Zeng Zhaoliang of China
  • Zhou Hao of China
  • Ma Hongwei of China
  • Jiang Han of China

According to the complaint, Complainants’ misappropriated trade secrets generally relate to foodservice equipment. In particular, both technical and commercial trade secrets are related to Vesta’s material coding management system (MCMS), bill of material (BOM) management system (BOMMS), BOM lists, technical drawings, proprietary tooling, and other information critical to the manufacture and assembly of the foodservice equipment and components.

The complaint alleges that three former Vesta employees who had unfettered access to the relevant trade secrets—Proposed Respondents Messrs. Zhou, Ma, and Jiang—misappropriated such trade secrets and disseminated them to the other Proposed Respondents, who are now importing products into the U.S. that were allegedly manufactured using those trade secrets.

Regarding domestic industry, Complainants state that they have made significant investments in the U.S. in connection with the distribution, maintenance, service, and repair of foodservice equipment that practice the allegedly-misappropriated trade secrets. Complainants further state that the Proposed Respondents’ alleged theft of Complainants’ trade secrets has caused substantial injury to Complainants’ domestic industry.

As to related litigation, Complainants state that Vesta has filed a complaint with local law enforcement officials in China.

With respect to potential remedy, Complainants request that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order and permanent cease-and-desist orders directed at the Proposed Respondents.