Chinese Firm Filed Patent 1 Week After Receiving Leaked Data

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Thursday

A Chinese company filed a patent in China about a week after a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) leaked data to the firm, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Public Security Bureau of the Metropolitan Police Department believes that the similarity between the leaked information and the patent suggests the data was used in the application.

Quan Hengdao, a Chinese senior researcher at AIST in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Law by disclosing trade secrets. Quan is suspected of leaking research data related to AIST’s fluorine compound synthesis technology, which is considered tantamount to AIST’s trade secrets, by email to the Chinese firm in April 2018.

According to investigative sources, the Beijing-based company, which manufactures chemical products, obtained the patent in June 2020 after filing for it about a week after receiving the information from Quan. The patent encompassed advanced technology related to the synthesis of fluorine compounds, similar to the leaked data.

Fluorine compounds are utilized in the manufacturing of insulating gases, which are used in such products as transformers and tend to have a significant greenhouse effect.

According to investigators, Quan’s research, which was related to the production of such gases with a low greenhouse effect to help combat climate change, might have attracted the interest of a Chinese company.