Sunday, November 12, 2006, 11/12/2006 11:31:00 AM

Cold Case: Anatomy of a Federal Trade Secrets Prosecution

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a story about a dispute between two refrigeration companies in which the federal government took the part of the company whose trade secrets were stolen

Under a plea agreement filed in federal court in Milwaukee this week, the three co-owners of Summit Refrigeration Group agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized access to a company computer and causing damage as a result of that access.

Dual Temp, the Chicago-based business that the men left to found Summit, will be paid restitution of $1.4 million by the time of the defendants' sentencing in federal court in February, under the agreement, thus settling a potential civil trade secrets case.

At issue in the case was the removal of records from Dual Temp's Brookfield office, including computerized drawings of company projects, and about 60 operations and maintenance manuals compiled by the company. The records also included 130 customer files regarding projects that Dual Temp was bidding on, as well as e-mail correspondence between Dual Temp and customers. The three former employees were indicted under the federal Economic Espionage Act.

Under the agreement, the misdemeanor to which the three men pleaded guilty this week carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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