in this article, the recent case of Coca Cola trade secret theft is briefly illustrated with reference to the technical aspect.
The chemical, Bisphenol (A), is used to make epoxy resins that is used for beverage cans interior coating. Recently, non-govermental organizations raised the alarm indicating that Bisphenol (A) is an artificial estrogen and could harm reproductive health. In response, many brands vowed to replace it by funding research for alternatives. However, replacement is difficult due to epoxy coatings performance as corrosion inhibitor for aluminum cans.
Bisphenol (A) : Production
Here you will find brief descriptions, industrial synthetic routes, and simplified flow diagrams to further illustrate the production process for Bisphenol (A)
Bisphenol (A) Alternative
Researchers from international chemical companies including Akzo-Nobel, BASF, Dow Chemical, PPG, Toyochem, Sherwin Williams, and Eastman Chemical Company were assigned by Coca Cola to research and develop alternative coatings for the inside of beverage cans. Thus, they settled on 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid resins, such as polyethylene-2,5-furandicaboxylate (PEF).
Trade Secret Theft
In an unexpected way, Dr. Xiaorong (Shannon) You , a polymer research chemist who was working for Coca Cola company in the US and therefore granted access to trade secrets related to furandicarboxylic acid coatings, was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft with Chinese co-conspirator in April 2021. The stolen trade secrets worth more than 120 million USD which was transferred for the purpose of setting up a Chinese competitor.