Becton Dickinson sues rival Cytek Biosciences, claiming it stole trade secrets

gavel and books
Becton Dickinson sues rival Cytek Biosciences, claiming they stole trade secrets related to new flow cytometer technology. (Image: CC0 public domain)

Becton Dickinson, a New Jersey-based medical device maker, is suing rival Cytek Biosciences and a group of former employees who jumped to Cytek, claiming they stole trade secrets.

Becton alleges that Cytek, which previously serviced Becton’s flow cytometers that measure and count certain types of cells, began marketing its own similar cytometer devices after hiring away the group of Becton employees beginning in 2015, The Recorder, a legal news publication, reported.

The suit, which was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims the former Becton employees had access to “technical specifications, source code, and designs” and then downloaded ”thousands of confidential and valuable technical files” prior to leaving the company for Cytek. The company alleges it gave Cytek a list of storage devices the former employees were known to have used, but “the vast majority” of the devices have not been recovered.

Virtual Clinical Trials Summit

Virtual Clinical Trials Summit: The Premier Educational Event Focused on Decentralized Clinical Trials

In this virtual environment, we will look at current and future trends for ongoing virtual trials, diving into the many ways companies can improve patient engagement and trial behavior to enhance retention with a focus on emerging technology and harmonized data access across the clinical trial system.

“Cytek has not investigated and disclosed the extent to which it and its employees have or have shared confidential BD information, and how any such information has been used, forcing BD to file this case to safeguard its trade secrets and other valuable property,” according to the suit.

The suit goes on to allege that within two and a half years after former Becton employee Ming Yan, who was a principal engineer and head of Becton’s project to develop a new type of flow cytometer dubbed “Project Newton,” Cytek debuted a product that had “striking similarities with the spectral flow cytometer previously in development at BD” during “Project Newton.”

Becton says it initiated an internal investigation in January after several other employees left to join Cytek and found they had downloaded “thousands” of files to “dozens” of external storage devices, and only a handful were recovered.

Neither Cytek nor Becton or its attorneys responded to requests by The Recorder for comment on the case.

News of the lawsuit comes just over a month after the FDA slapped Becton with a warning letter over unauthorized changes to devices and other regulatory violations at its New Jersey manufacturing site.