Philips Medical Systems sues ex-employee over alleged secrets theft

April 24, 2019
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
Philips Medical Systems has sued a former engineer, Jose Buan, over the alleged theft of secret information concerning its 2XXX X-ray tubes.

“As an employee working and then managing CTR2150 X-ray tube projects, Buan had unfettered access to myriad documentation of Philips’ trade secret and confidential business information relating to all aspects of the 2XXX project X-Ray Tube, including design, design history, specifications, manufacturing techniques, quality systems, and process improvement. Buan’s log-on credentials provided Buan with access to the entire design, manufacturing, quality and marketing files related to the Philips 2XXX X-ray Tubes in addition to other Philips products,” according to MassDevice citing Philips filings in the suit before the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.

After Buan left the company in 2017 to lead a design and prototyping team at GL Leading Technologies, Philips found that he had taken over 800 company files that “contain trade secret information regarding the function and design of X-ray tubes that Philips developed over a period of many years,” according to the news site. The company also claimed that he had then erased his drive with a magnet “to conceal and/or destroy evidence of his misappropriation of Philips’ trade secret and other confidential business information,” and that the company “recovered at least a substantial portion of the data,” according to the report of the suit.

GL Leading Technologies was started a month before Buan joined the company, in December, 2017, claimed Mass Device.

“Buan and GL Leading are using unlawfully misappropriated Philips’ trade secret and other confidential business information to develop a knockoff of at least some models of the Philips 2XXX X-ray tubes,” the news site said court documents claimed, adding that the suit stated that, “information on Philips designs, design history, specifications, and manufacturing techniques cannot be reverse-engineered from a sample Philips 2XXX X-ray tube. For example, the materials, circuitry, controls, and other features of the design were refined over years of development and commercial use,” and continued that, “without having misappropriated such trade secrets and other confidential business information relating to aspects of design, design logic, and process controls, GL Leading would not have been able to so rapidly progress in its development of a commercial knockoff.”

Philips is asking the court for a permanent injunction, damages, doubled exemplary damages, and legal fees.

Philips was recently in the news in early March, when it acquired Carestream's IT unit – including diagnostic and enterprise viewers, multimedia reporting, workflow orchestrator, and clinical, operational and business analytics tools.

Through the deal, 900 Carestream employees are becoming part of Philips’ Healthcare Informatics business within the Diagnosis and Treatment segment.

“This acquisition will enhance our ability to provide flexible solutions to hospitals and health systems," said Robert Cascella, chief business leader precision diagnosis at Philips, in a statement. "The combination of our successful innovations in imaging system platforms, workflow optimization and artificial intelligence-enabled informatics, combined with Carestream’s cloud-based enterprise imaging informatics platform and complementary geographic footprint will provide a solid foundation to deliver on the promise of precision diagnosis.”

Carestream will retain its medical imaging, dental, and industrial films, non-destructive testing, and precision coating businesses.