Pfizer sues employee for stealing Covid-19 vaccine secrets
- The drug maker said soon-to-be-former worker Chun Xiao Li uploaded more than 12,000 files without permission to her personal accounts from her office laptop
- The documents contained internal assessments and recommendations about the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and presentations related to cancer antibodies
In a complaint filed on Tuesday in San Diego federal court, Pfizer said Chun Xiao Li breached her confidentiality agreement by uploading more than 12,000 files without permission to her personal accounts and devices from her company-issued laptop.
Pfizer said Li, an associate director of statistics, tried repeatedly to cover her tracks, even providing a “decoy” laptop to fool it into thinking what she did with the files.
Li “has misled Pfizer about what she took, how she took it, when and why she did it, and where those files [and possibly others] can be found,” the New York-based drug maker said.
Pfizer said Li is resigning after 15 years at the company, and appears to have an offer to join Xencor Inc, a California clinical-stage company focusing on treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, on November 29.
Li could not immediately be reached for comment through her LinkedIn account. Xencor is not a defendant in the lawsuit, and declined to comment.
Pfizer said competitors have been trying to recruit its employees “relentlessly, especially during 2021.”
In an order late on Tuesday, US District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo temporarily blocked Li from using Pfizer’s trade secrets, and said the company’s lawyers can review accounts and devices where she might have stored them.
The judge scheduled a December 9 hearing to consider a longer injunction.