An Oregon livestock nutrition company has won a judgment of $3.85 million against a former employee who was found liable for stealing trade secrets.
Omnigen Research, which produces feed additives that counteract hemorrhagic bowel syndrome in cattle, was founded by Neil Forsberg, a former Oregon State University professor.
Roughly 20 percent of the U.S. dairy herd is treated with these products, according to Phibro, an animal health company that bought Omnigen for $23 million in 2012.
Last year, Omnigen filed a lawsuit accusing a former employee, Yongqiang Wang, of using its technology to obtain a patent in China and start a competing livestock nutrition business in that country.
Wang denied relying on trade secrets obtained from Omnigen during his eight years of employment at the company, which ended in 2013, and countered that he was falsely promised a portion of the firm’s profits.
In May, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled against Wang because he’d destroyed evidence in the case, including computer files and emails.
“These actions have deprived the plaintiffs of evidence central to their case and undermined the court’s ability to enter a judgment based on the evidence,” McShane said in a ruling granting default judgment to Omnigen.
McShane has now found that Wang owes $821,000 for breaching his contract with Omnigen, misappropriating its trade secrets and falsely advertising the company’s technology as his own.
However, the judge tripled that amount, to $2,463,000, to have a punitive and deterrent effect. McShane also tacked on $92,000 for the salary paid to Wang while he was working against the company and $252,000 for research projects he sabotaged.
Aside from the $2.8 million in damages, McShane has ordered Wang to pay his former employer more than $1 million in attorney fees and costs.
Omnigen has also secured $500,000 of collateral in Wang’s home in Corvallis, Ore., to ensure he complies with an injunction barring him from using the stolen trade secrets in China.