Florida’s U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz today sharply criticized China for continuing to enable its citizens to steal valuable technology and intellectual property from American businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in “a pattern of thievery that makes China an international outlaw.” Gaetz cited the example of how Chinese nationals have ignored the demands of Tallahassee company Bing Energy International, despite a three-month-old final decree from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the company’s favor.
“We need to recognize that these aren’t individual bad actors taking advantage of unsuspecting American inventors and investors – but it’s all part of an orchestrated campaign of treachery by the Chinese government to steal technology created by hard-working Americans and use it to harm the interests of the United States,” Gaetz said. “The case of Bing Energy shows exactly why we need to fight back to protect our ideas as well as our people, communities, businesses, and borders.”
Gaetz, who conducted a Congressional hearing on Chinese theft of intellectual property in August 2017, with Bing as a high-profile example, said he will speak with Florida’s two U.S. Senators and other members of the Florida Congressional Delegation in order to protect Florida businesses like Bing from being taken advantage of by improper actions.
“If China wants to be respected in the global marketplace, it simply must put an end to these unseemly, unsavory practices that so flagrantly harm the very people who drive our economy. They need to stop engaging in a pattern of thievery that makes China an international outlaw,” Gaetz said. “An important gesture for China to right these wrongs would be to compel its Bing counterpart to recognize its obligation to our Florida investors and make them whole.”
American elected officials are exerting increased pressure on Chinese theft of intellectual property, including recent bipartisan legislation to ban the sale of U.S. technology components to Chinese telecommunications companies that violate sanctions or U.S. export laws. But, Gaetz said, that’s not enough to help small startups like Bing that are victimized and then ignored.
Investors in Tallahassee-based Bing Energy added to Gaetz’s broadside criticism, complaining that their rights under court rulings are being ignored. Despite a favorable final decree from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in their favor three months ago, those involved with Bing Energy International have yet to receive relief.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tallahassee last September 25 entered a final decree bringing closure to one chapter of the Bing saga and beginning a new chapter for a restructured Bing. The bankruptcy case restructured ownership to eliminate certain Chinese nationals and restore the authority of the Tallahassee group of investors.
However, Bing shareholders are being ignored by two of the principals responsible for the intellectual property theft, Yung Chen and Nantong Bing Energy. Bing Energy’s technological breakthrough, which would potentially revolutionize energy production, was funded by the U.S. Army and developed at Florida State University.
When the bankruptcy judge’s order was issued last fall, the investors believed it would open the door for them to pursue their assets in China, but so far, their efforts have been ignored.
“The order was supposed to get the bad actors out of the ownership group and let us work to recover assets that were wrongly taken from us,” said Dean Minardi, CEO of Bing Energy International. “We still intend to pursue our rights, and Congressman Gaetz’s support has been instrumental in getting us this far. We are deeply grateful for his leadership and advocacy.”
The complexity of the case is reflected in the similar names of the various corporate entities on opposite sides of the conflict. Bing Energy International was formed to develop commercial applications of cutting-edge energy technology developed at Florida State University. The company partnered with China and formed the associated company Nantong Bing. Eventually, the investor group asserts, Chinese nationals stole intellectual property in order to bring the technology to China, where they would profit from the misappropriated assets of Bing and the FSU Research Foundation.
Bing Energy International owns at least 20 percent of Nantong Bing. With the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings, the company anticipated moving forward to regain the value of that significant ownership share, in order to recover the investors’ losses and pay creditors consistent with the Chapter 11 Plan. The company retained counsel in China to enforce its rights there.