United States v. Liew, No. 14-10367 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Walter Liew and his company, USAPTI, challenged eight counts of conviction under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), 18 U.S.C. 1831(a), for charges related to their unauthorized use of DuPont chloride-route technology for producing titanium dioxide. Defendants also appealed their convictions for conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and evidence. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err by giving a jury instruction regarding compilations; by rejecting a public-disclosure instruction; and by rejecting the reverse engineering and general knowledge instructions. The Ninth Circuit also held that defendants waived their right to have their argument related to the conspiracy and attempt instructions reviewed; even if this issue were reviewable, an intervening Ninth Circuit decision resolved it (United States v. Nosal). The Ninth Circuit rejected challenges to the sufficiency of trade secret evidence regarding substantive trade secret counts. However, the Ninth Circuit reversed defendants' convictions as to conspiracy to obstruct justice where the statement at issue tacked too close to a general denial to constitute obstruction of justice, and as to witness tampering where the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Liew intimidated, threatened or corruptly persuaded a witness. Finally, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err by not requiring the prosecution to disclose rough notes of the FBI's interviews with a deceased coconspirator. Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.