United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Theft of Trade Secrets — sufficiency of the evidence
The government is not required to prove that the owner of a trade secret actually lost money as a result of the theft.
“[T]he ‘independent economic value’ attributable to the information’s remaining secret need only be ‘potential,’ as distinct from ‘actual.’ 18 U.S.C. § 1839(3)(B). We held in United States v. Lange, 312 F.3d 263 (7th Cir. 2002), that information about the composition of aircraft brake assemblies was a trade secret even though that information might have been obtained (entirely lawfully) by reverse engineering of the brakes. For ‘completed assemblies must be exhaustively tested to demonstrate, to the FAA’s satisfaction, that all requirements have been met; only then does the FAA certify the part for sale … . It takes RAPCO [the victim of the theft of trade secrets] a year or two to design, and obtain approval for, a complex part … . But the process of experimenting and testing can be avoided if the manufacturer demonstrates that its parts are identical (in composition and manufacturing processes) to parts that have already been certified. What Lange, a disgruntled former employee, offered for sale was all the information required to obtain certification of several components as identical to parts for which RAPCO held certification.’ Id. at 265.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Castillo, J., Posner, J.