United States v. Howley, No. 11-6040 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Wyko sold parts to tire manufacturers, but in the U.S., provided parts for steel tire-assembly machines only for Goodyear. Wyko contracted with HaoHua, owned by the Chinese government, to supply parts unlike any it had previously built. Goodyear used machines like those Wyko needed. Goodyear asked Wyko to repair tire-assembly machines. Wyko sent engineers. Before their visit, both signed agreements that they might have access to trade secrets or other confidential information and that they would not disclose that information. A security guard reminded them that no cameras were allowed inside the factory. Unescorted for a few minutes, one engineer used his cell-phone camera to take photos that were forwarded to the design team. Wyko’s IT manager forwarded the e-mail to Goodyear. Goodyear notified the FBI. Convicted of theft of trade secrets (18 U.S.C. 1832(a)) and wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343, 1349), the engineers were sentenced to four months of home confinement, community service, and probation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions, rejecting an argument that the photographs did not meet the statutory definition because Goodyear did not take “reasonable measures” to protect secrecy. The court reversed the sentences because the court had not adequately explained its calculation of loss.