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Pfizer sues laid-off employees who say they stole COVID-19 vaccine secrets

Pfizer Inc. sued a longtime employee for allegedly stealing “scores” of classified documents, including some related to her COVID-19 vaccine, as she prepared to jump to a rival compete.

In a complaint filed in San Diego federal court Tuesday, Pfizer said Chun Xiao Li violated her confidentiality agreement by uploading more than 12,000 files without permission to her personal accounts and devices. from a laptop issued by the company.

The alleged documents include a September 24 “playbook” containing internal reviews and recommendations of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer’s relationship with German vaccine partners and other sources. Presentation related to cancer antibodies.

Pfizer said Li, a deputy director of statistics, tried multiple times to cover her tracks, even providing a laptop “bait” to trick it into thinking she had done something with the files. believe.

Li “misled Pfizer about what she took, how she got it, when and why she did it, and where those files (and possibly others) can be found” , the New York-based drugmaker said.

Pfizer said Li is stepping down after 15 years at the company and appears to have an offer to join Xencor Inc, a clinical-stage California company focused on treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases. immunity, on November 29.

Li could not be reached immediately for comment through her LinkedIn account. Xencor is not a defendant in the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Pfizer said competitors have been trying to recruit their employees “incessantly, especially in 2021”.

In an order late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo temporarily blocked Li from using Pfizer’s trade secrets and said the company’s attorneys could review the accounts and devices that were not being used. she may have archived them.

The judge scheduled a hearing for December 9 to consider a longer order.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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