In 2020, Concepts NREC accused Xuwen Qiu and TurboTides, Inc. of breach of contract, copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation, and other state law claims in connection with computer-aided engineering and manufacturing software for turbomachinery. Qiu was employed by Concepts from 2001 to 2015 to work on the development of Concepts software, and was subject to an employment agreement that included confidentiality and non-disclosure provisions. While employed by Concepts, Qiu set up TurboTides, a company that did software development. Concepts says that Qiu wrongfully obtained Concepts’ software and trade secret information for use by TurboTides.
In its complaint, Concepts NREC asserted that Qiu was a Chinese citizen living in Hanover NH under a green card. A series of discovery disputes and court orders resulted in Concepts moving to find Qiu in contempt in relation to his alleged failure to comply with subpoenas in accordance with a court order. Concepts then sought an order compelling Qiu to appear in person at the motion hearing so that the Court could assess his credibility. Judge Doyle denied Concepts’ request, noting that court orders that arose because of the Covid crisis permit him to exercise discretion to conduct hearings by videoconference. He indicated that, based on his experience conducting hearings via Zoom, he would be able to receive evidence and adequately assess credibility via the Zoom platform. Balancing Qiu’s representation that he had been in China since September 2021 and would have great difficulty in returning to China if forced to appear in Vermont due to China’s recent and extreme Covid-based restrictions.
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