March 10, 2009

Two charged with industrial espionage

The U.S. Justice Department has charged two Wyko Tire Technology Inc. engineers with secretly photographing equipment at a Goodyear tire factory.

In early 2007, Wyko secured a contract to supply the Haohau South China Guilin Rubber Co. with tire manufacturing equipment, Justice said in a statement.

In May of that year, Wyko engineers Sean Howley and Clark Roberts allegedly visited a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Topeka, Kan., under false pretenses. During the visit the pair used a cell phone to surreptitiously photograph proprietary OTR tire manufacturing equipment, Justice said in a statement.

The photographs, which contained valuable trade secret information were sent to a Wyko subsidiary in Dudley, England, where they were used to complete the project, Justice said.

Roberts and Howley were arraigned in Knoxville, Tenn., and face up to 150 years in prisons and a fine of $2.75 million on 12 counts related to theft of trade secrets and trade fraud, Justice said.