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The details of an e-mail correspondence between a chemist and a scientist are sufficient to support the scientist’s conviction for conspiracy to steal trade secrets, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled ( United States v. Stephen R. Martin, No. 00-1039, 1st Cir.). The panel affirmed the conviction of Stephen R. Martin by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine on one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets from IDEXX Inc., a manufacturer of veterinary products. Martin began communicating with IDEXX chemist Caryn Camp in January 1998, when Camp visited the Web site for Wyoming DNA Vaccine (WDV), of which Martin was CEO. Martin had previously contacted IDEXX with a proposal involving research into human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), at which time he signed a confidentiality agreement. The e-mail correspondence between Camp and Martin began with discussion of Camp’s potential employment at WDV. As the correspondence progressed, Camp began relaying information about IDEXX, including information regarding a manual that “IDEXX … is not exactly supposed to have.” In April 1998, Camp noted in an e-mail that information she had transmitted was confidential and discussed problems IDEXX customers had been having with particular diagnostic kits. She also talked about the IDEXX free software program called “x-Chek.” REQUEST FOR INFORMATION In May 1998, Martin asked Camp for “any info … on the HOT topics in veterinary diagnostics” and asked a number of questions regarding IDEXX prices, test composition and test use. Camp provided answers to most of the questions. She also sent Martin internal memoranda, noting that they may have been confidential. Martin responded by claiming that he did “not want to know anything confidential about IDEXX” and wanted only “public information.” However, Camp continued to relay information, including information on IDEXX’s strategic plan and IDEXX’s methodology for certain tests. She also began to talk about plans for leaving IDEXX and moving to Nevada. In July 1998, Camp sent Martin a package of information, including various devices, product inserts, USDA course materials, information on her own projects and miscellaneous IDEXX product information. Later that month, she provided information on additions and modifications to current IDEXX technology and offered to send Martin a copy of the x-Chek software. Martin urged her to “absorb as much information, physically and intellectually, as you can” before leaving IDEXX. On July 24, 1998, her last day at IDEXX, she sent Martin a package containing IDEXX operating manuals, marketing manuals, research and development data; a sales binder prepared by an independent contractor; and a binder labeled “Competition.” She sent Martin an e-mail on July 25 detailing the contents of the package; the e-mail was inadvertently sent to John Lawrence, global marketing manager for Poultry/Livestock at IDEXX. Camp went on vacation immediately after sending the e-mail; when she returned to Maine, she was intercepted by the FBI. A subsequent search of Martin’s home revealed the contents of the second package, including the x-Chek software. Camp agreed to testify against Martin as part of a plea bargain; among other offenses, he was convicted on one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets. On appeal, Martin challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trade secrets charge. SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE Affirming, the 1st Circuit rejected Martin’s argument that the evidence is insufficient to prove an agreement with Camp to violate the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. “A rational jury could have plausibly concluded on the basis of the evidence presented at trial that an agreement existed,” the appeals court said. “By July 21, Martin had received extensive correspondence from Camp that she had either marked ‘confidential’ or ‘proprietary,’ or had expressed some hesitation in forwarding. Despite his previous protestations that he wanted nothing to do with IDEXX or its confidential information, Martin asked Camp on July 21 to ‘absorb as much information, physically and intellectually, as you can,’ and included a set of questions to direct Camp’s research.” Further, the panel said, the evidence is sufficient to show that Martin intended to harm IDEXX by obtaining its trade secrets and competing against it. Finally, the court said, Martin’s argument that he received no trade secrets — even if true — is irrelevant. “Martin has only been found guilty of a conspiracy to steal trade secrets, rather than the underlying offense.” Martin is represented by William G. Schaffer of Curtis Thaxter Stevens Broder & Micoleau in Portland, Maine. The government is represented by Jay P. McCloskey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and F. Mark Terison of the Justice Department. �; Copyright 2000 Mealey Publications, Inc.

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