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Tennessee Engineers Found Guilty of Stealing Trade Secrets

December 11, 2010, by The McKellar Law Firm, PLLC

A federal jury in Knoxville, Tennessee has found two Greenback, Tennessee engineers guilty of stealing and making use of trade secrets. Clark Alan Roberts and Sean Edward Howley were found guilty on all counts, including charges of conspiracy, theft and attempted theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2010.

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According to an article by Ed Marcum with the Knoxville News Sentinel, federal prosecutors argued that Roberts and Howley, who worked for Greenback-based Wyko Tire Technology Inc., faced a tight deadline to produce tire-making machinery for a Chinese company that wanted to make a certain specialized type of over-sized tires, which Wyko had not previously made. However, prosecutors contended that Goodyear, for which Wyko was a supplier, had developed such machinery. Prosecutors claimed that the defendants made a visit to a Goodyear plant Kansas in May 2007 so that defendant Howley could secretly use a cell phone camera to photograph such a machine.

Violations of federal trade secrets law fall under the guise of The Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which is codified at 18 U.S.C. Sections 1831 and 1832. To be found guilty of violating Section 1832 of the Economic Espionage Act, the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(1) the defendant stole, or without the owner's authorization obtained, sent, destroyed, or conveyed information;
(2) the defendant knew or believed that the information was a trade secret;
(3) the information was in fact a trade secret;
(4) the defendant intended to convert the trade secret to the economic benefit of somebody other than the owner;
(5) the defendant knew or intended that the owner of the trade secret would be injured; and (6) the trade secret was related to, or was included in, a product that was produced or placed in interstate or foreign commerce.

A defendant is also prohibited from attempting to steal a trade secret, or to receive, purchase, destroy, or possess a trade secret which the defendant knew was stolen. 18 U.S.C. ยงยง1832(a)(2) - (4).

Additional Resources
"Jury Finds Two Greenback Engineers Guilty," Knoxnews.com, December 10, 2010
Dept. of Justice Press Release, December 9, 2010