By Eric Schweibenz
On December 18, 2013, ALJ David P. Shaw issued Order No. 11 in Certain Crawler Cranes and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-887).  In the Order, ALJ Shaw denied Complainant Manitowoc Cranes, LLC’s (“Manitowoc Cranes”) motion to prevent disclosure of its confidential business information to Mr. Thomas K. Becker.

According to the Order, Manitowoc Cranes argued that Respondents had identified Mr. Becker as an expert on Respondents’ behalf in the investigation, and that Mr. Becker had been previously employed by Manitowoc Cranes’ parent company for 25 years.  Manitowoc Cranes objected to Mr. Becker’s proposed role as an expert for three reasons.  First, Manitowoc Cranes argued that there was significant risk that Mr. Becker would disclose confidential information to which he had been exposed during his previous employment with the parent company.  Second, Manitowoc Cranes argued that Mr. Becker’s recent employment with a crane manufacturer that competes with Manitowoc Cranes should preclude him from receiving confidential information in the investigation.  Third, Manitowoc Cranes argued that Respondents appeared to be deliberately using Mr. Becker for his knowledge of confidential information from his previous employment with the parent company.  Respondents and the Commission Investigative Staff opposed the motion.

After considering the arguments, ALJ Shaw determined to deny the motion.  The ALJ noted that although Mr. Becker had worked for Manitowoc Cranes’ parent company for many years, his employment there had ended approximately 16 years ago—well before the development of the trade secrets and technology in the patents at issue in the investigation.  Moreover, Mr. Becker’s employment with Pettibone Traverse Lift, LLC (“Pettibone,” Manitowoc Cranes’ competitor) had ended, and in any event Pettibone competes with Manitowoc Cranes in a market unrelated to the technology involved in the investigation.  Lastly, the fact that a Respondent had stated that Mr. Becker might be used to rebut Manitowoc Cranes’ fact witnesses did not constitute an admission that Mr. Becker would be used as a fact witness and use information he gained while employed at Manitowoc Cranes’ parent company.  Accordingly, ALJ Shaw denied Manitowoc Cranes’ motion.