Parsippany-based defense contractor and temporary panel bridge builder Acrow Corp. of America agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against a Denver-based manufacturer and two Canadian manufacturers Friday after they agreed to end an alleged scheme to steal trade secrets.
According to Acrow’s attorney Michael Nicodema of Greenberg Traurig LLP, Big R Manufacturing LLC entered a stipulation with Acrow that they wouldn’t try to gain access to trade secrets including the identity of Acrow’s suppliers through its other business partners.
Court filings from Acrow in United States District Court in Denver on May 23 include emails from Big R Chief Executive Officer Cameron Klein to the company’s Marketing Managing Mike Napior instructing him to set up a tour at a manufacturing facility Acrow works with in Pennsylvania.
In the emails, Klein said he’d been working with AIL and Algonquin Bridge on developing a panel bridge system for Big R to manufacture in the United States, and that “part of the project has been to reverse engineer Acrow Bridge’s material grades.” He also said he was unable to identify Acrow’s partner for its high-grade steel despite having “contacted every possible mill in the U.S.”
Klein’s emails include Google aerial maps marked with red arrows to indicate locations of where Acrow’s steel materials might be stored on site.
“I was wondering if you could swing by and do a plant tour under the cover that we would like to see their operation for future work,” Klein’s email to Napior said. “On your tour, you should be able to walk the entire site and innocently ask ‘what are these panels’ and walk over and see … (or even get a photo).”
Court documents contend that the scheme was thwarted when an employee of the Pennsylvania facility, upon receiving the request for a plant tour, noticed the email string attached outlining the Big R’s plan.
The 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act provides a remedy for attempts to misappropriate trade secrets, even if attempts are unsuccessful.
“You set the wheels in motion, and it can create liability,” said Nicodema.
While many trade secrets cases are brought into state court, he explained, two aspects of this case put it in federal court: diversity of citizenship, since Acrow is based in New Jersey and Big R is based in Colorado; and that the federal statute provides remedy for attempted misappropriation while state law doesn’t.
Denver firm Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, which represents Big R Manufacturing, was not immediately available to provide comment.
In April, Acrow was one of two firms selected by the U.S. Army to provide bridging solutions for the next three years, with a potential contract value of $250 million.