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updated: 2/12/2011 8:04 PM

Congressmen team up to protect Itasca business

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  • 6th District Rep. Peter Roskam.

    6th District Rep. Peter Roskam.

  • 14th District Rep. Don Manzullo

    14th District Rep. Don Manzullo

  • Senator Mark Kirk

    Senator Mark Kirk

  • Senator Dick Durbin

    Senator Dick Durbin


Members of Illinois' congressional delegation have again teamed up to urge the Chinese government to help resolve a dispute between an Itasca manufacturing company and its former Chinese business partner, which is accused of stealing intellectual property and materials.

Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, and Republican Congressmen Peter Roskam, of Wheaton, and Don Manzullo, of Egan, have co-authored a letter to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, asking him to intervene in the case of Fellowes, Inc., a 575-employee business based in the DuPage County suburb.

The letter describes a chain of events the Congressmen say are becoming increasingly common in China.

In 2006, Fellowes entered a partnership with Chinese firm Shinri, to produce a line of its paper shredders overseas. Fellowes alleges Shinri took control of the companies' joint facility, stopped shipping products, and locked Fellowes employees out of the factory.

Because Shinri stopped shipping Fellowes products, the joint venture was unable to pay its vendors. Those vendors filed suit in a Chinese court for nonpayment and that court, the lawmakers say, is expected to rule on the vendors' behalf.

As a result, Fellowes' assets, including tools and unshipped products could be auctioned and Shinri is set to buy the equipment for a fraction of their market price.

Fellowes has been barred from participating in the Chinese legal process.

Without intervention, the letter warns, more money and trade secrets will be stolen from the Itasca company.

Durbin, Kirk, Roskam and Manzullo requested the Chinese Government work with local authorities to ensure fair treatment of Fellowes under Chinese law, ensuring the protection of its intellectual property and materials, and preventing Shinri from benefiting from its illegal activities.

This is the third letter the state's Congressional delegation has sent to the Chinese Embassy about the issue. To date, it has yet to receive a response.

Following the letter, Roskam also spoke out about the issue at a Friday Ways and Means Committee hearing.

He called it "essentially a nightmare scenario with a joint venture that has gone south, and they have not been able to get the legal remedies that they deserve. I think it's a very, very serious example of manipulations on the part of some in China that are taking advantage of an incredibly significant manufacturer in the Chicago area."