Chemical Engineer Must Pay Approximately $4 Million in Restitution for Unlawfully Possessing Trade Secrets
A Ph.D. chemical engineer from Sunnyvale, Texas, Dr. Mattias Tezock, 53, who admitted unlawfully possessing trade secrets from his former employer, Voltaix LLC, has been ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn to pay approximately $4 million in restitution to this former employer as part of the five-year term of probation that resulted from his pleas of guilty in this case. The trade secrets at issue concerned the manufacture, synthesis, and purification of germane gas, a specialty chemical used in the semiconductor and solar energy industries.
In August 2015, Tezock pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful possession of a trade secret. The facts supporting the guilty pleas established that from mid-April 2004 through September 2005, Tezock was employed as a chemical engineer at Voltaix, LLC, a multinational corporation headquartered in North Branch, New Jersey. Over approximately 25 years and at great expense, Voltaix developed a specific, industry-leading and exacting secret and confidential scientific method to make and purify germane gas to specifications required by its customers. Tezock further admitted that Voltaix took reasonable measure to keep this information secret and confidential and that Voltaix derived economic value from it not being known to, or readily ascertainable through proper means, by the public. As part of his employment at Voltaix, Tezock agreed to and signed non-compete and employee confidentiality forms that prohibited him from improper disclosures of Voltaix’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information.
Voltaix terminated Tezock’s employment in September 2005. Thereafter, Tezock moved to Texas where he established Metaloid Precursors, Inc., a company based in Terrell, Texas, that manufactured, produced, purified, and sold the specialty gas, germane. Almost immediately upon his termination from Voltaix, Tezock began taking steps to misappropriate Voltaix’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret recipe and process for manufacturing and purifying germane gas and later attempting to steal business from Voltaix by actively soliciting at least one of Voltaix’s customers.
During subsequent civil litigation brought by Voltaix, Tezock took steps to hide his possession of trade secret information by deleting files or manipulating computer evidence in order to prevent Voltaix from learning the scope and magnitude of his breach. Tezock also provided false testimony under oath in a deposition during the civil litigation.
As part of the plea agreement resolving the criminal charges, Tezock agreed to take steps to terminate his business and destroy the germane processing plant. Among other things, immediately upon entering the guilty plea, Tezock immediately was required to cease and desist accepting, soliciting, receiving, or entering into new orders, soliciting business, or engaging in any manufacturing or refining work at Metaloid Precursors. Tezock further surrendered the keys to the Metaloid Precursors building and later worked to dismantle, destroy, and remove all hardware, chemicals, and equipment used in the manufacturing and synthesis of germane and related gases.
As part of his punishment, Chief Judge Lynn accepted the parties’ plea agreement which included a five-year term of probation with a prohibition that during the term of probation, Tezock was not permitted to work in any capacity with germane gas or other specialty chemicals. Tezock was further prohibited from disclosing to any person or entity in any manner any proprietary, confidential, or trade secret information of Voltaix.
Source: Dept. of Justice
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