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PPG Indus. v. Jiangsu Tie Mao Glass Co.

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

March 31, 2020, Decided; March 31, 2020, Filed

2:15-cv-00965

Opinion

Mark R. Hornak, Chief United States District Judge

In February 2015, PPG Industries, Inc., learned that one of its former employees stole and then sold multi-million-dollar trade secrets to Jiangsu Tie Mao Glass Company ("TMG"), a Chinese competitor of PPG. PPG would go on to learn that TMG engaged in a years-long effort to obtain its proprietary information from the former employee in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars funneled to the employee via a TMG representative's bank account. In the weeks and months following the news, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the former PPG employee and a federal grand jury him for stealing PPG's trade [*2]  secrets.

It was also during those months that PPG initiated this civil action against TMG and two (2) of its representatives, Benhua Wu and Mei Zhang (collectively, "Defendants"). PPG's Complaint alleged several claims, and after Defendants failed for years to answer the Complaint, PPG sought an entry of default. Now, PPG moves for a default judgment on its trade secrets misappropriation claim. Defendants, having entered an appearance at the last minute, move to set aside the Clerk's entry of default. PPG's motion is GRANTED IN PART as set forth below, and is also DEFERRED IN PART without prejudice, and Defendants' motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

TMG and PPG are competitors in the transparencies industry—meaning that they manufacture and sell commercial glass products, such as airplane windows. TMG maintains its headquarters in China, while PPG operates out of its Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania main office. At issue in this case are Defendants' efforts to misappropriate a wide array of PPG's proprietary transparencies-related manufacturing processes, in particular those related to a product called Opticor. Starting in 2013, Defendants colluded with a former PPG employee, Thomas Rukavina, to [*3]  unlawfully acquire PPG's proprietary technology and information. During the two-and-a-half years when Defendants operated their trade secrets stealing scheme, they paid Rukavina over $100,000 for proprietary PPG information. Eventually, however, the law caught up to Defendants. PPG got wind of the conspiracy and alerted the FBI, who promptly arrested Rukavina.

Shortly after Rukavina's arrest, PPG brought this action against TMG, as well as Benhua Wu and Mei Zhang. Wu serves as TMG's general chairman—the equivalent of a chief executive officer. According to PPG's Complaint, Wu personally oversaw the effort to steal PPG's trade secrets with Rukavina's help. Zhang serves as a purchasing agent for PPG. According to the Complaint, she served as Rukavina's handler—often helping TMG funnel money from its corporate account to Rukavina's personal bank account—and personally assisted in TMG's efforts to trick a PPG subcontractor into supplying additional confidential information.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55687 *

PPG INDUSTRIES, INC., Plaintiff, v. JIANGSU TIE MAO GLASS CO., LTD., et al, Defendants.

Prior History: PPG Indus. v. Jiangsu Tie Mao Glass Co., 273 F. Supp. 3d 558, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114083 (W.D. Pa., July 21, 2017)

CORE TERMS

trade secret, misappropriation, email, prong, contacts, damages, default, proprietary, personal jurisdiction, costs, effects, technology, stolen, transferred, Declaration, exemplary damages, unjust enrichment, expenses, estimation, default judgment, manufacture, courts, exercise jurisdiction, permanent injunction, traditional test, attorney's fees, research and development, confidential, factors, court of appeals