10 March 2017
South Dakota
Reporter: Mark Dugdale

Former Poet employee stands accused of trade secret theft


Biofuel producer Poet has accused an engineering firm and a former employee of stealing its trade secrets.

Poet lodged a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of South Dakota on 6 March against Nelson Engineering and its CEO, Jerry Baker.

They stand accused of misappropriating trade secrets for delayed dilution, a technology that allows Poet to achieve increased ethanol production from each fermenter in the process, in contravention of non-disclosure agreements.

“Poet has invested significant time and money into developing proprietary technology and processes that contribute to our long-standing success as an industry leader,” said president and COO Jeff Lautt. “We will do whatever necessary to protect our intellectual property from unauthorised use by others.”

According to the lawsuit, Nelson Engineering’s hydrolysis utilisation technology sounds “exactly” like delayed dilution, which Baker worked on during his time at Poet between 2005 and 2006.

Poet was alerted to the theft when Nelson Engineering began offering the hydrolysis utilisation technology to its competitors, according to the complaint.

Nelson Engineering has not responded publicly to the allegations.

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