ERJ staff report (DS)
Knoxville, Tennessee-A federal jury convicted Clark Alan Roberts, 47, and Sean Edward Howley, 39, both former engineers with Wyko Tire Technology Inc., of stealing trade secrets from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney William C. Killian for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on the 10 felony counts by US District Court Judge Thomas Phillips on April 14, 2011. They face a maximum of 10 years in prison for each trade secret count, 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, and $2.5 million in fines.
After a one-week trial, the jury found Roberts and Howley guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, one count of trade secret theft, one count of unlawful photographing of trade secrets, three counts of transmittal of trade secrets, one count of possession of trade secrets, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to the evidence presented in court, Wyko secured a $1.2 million contract in early 2007 with the Haohua South China Guilin Rubber Company Limited (HHSC), a Chinese tyre manufacturing company located in Guilin, Peoples Republic of China, to supply tyre building equipment for use in producing radial â€œoff the roadâ€ (OTR) tyres, which are used on very large earth moving and mining equipment. Wyko was in the business of making tyre building equipment for Goodyear and other tyre manufacturers. One of the pieces of equipment that Wyko agreed to sell to HHSC was called a swab down device, which is used during the manufacture of a giant OTR tyre. However, Wyko had never built a swab down device before and was having difficulty in the spring of 2007 completing their design of the swab down device.
On May 30 and 31, 2007, Roberts and Howley, traveled to a Goodyear tyre manufacturing facility located in Topeka, Kan., to service Wyko equipment located in the Goodyear plant with the intention of taking photographs of Goodyear's swab down device to assist them with completing their design even though they knew Goodyear protected the swab down device as a trade secret. On May 31, 2007, the defendants used a cell phone camera to surreptitiously take seven unauthorised photographs of a Goodyear swab down device, without the knowledge or permission of Goodyear. The defendants then e-mailed the unauthorised photographs to employees at a Wyko subsidiary located in Dudley, England, who used the trade secret information contained in the photographs to complete a similar piece of tyre building equipment for the HHSC contract.
Local reports said the two men would appeal against the conviction.
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Press release from US Dept of Justice
Jury finds two Greenback engineers guilty Knoxville.biz (US - Tennessee)