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Judge issues injunction against Symons company

February 22, 2007

Marion Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Carroll yesterday issued a preliminary injunction ordering an Indianapolis company controlled by high-profile businessman Alan G. Symons to return computer files and other information allegedly taken from a Fishers competitor.

 

The competitor, Product Action International LLC, claimed in a lawsuit filed in May that Symons’ company-Fast Tek Group LLC-used Product Action’s business blueprint to build a similar company. Both firms sort defects out of parts lots for manufacturers.

 

Symons filed an appeal shortly after Carroll issued the injunction. “This is two competitors beating each other up,” he said, denying wrongdoing.

 

Symons, 60, is a Canada native who developed interests in trucking and other businesses before moving to Indianapolis in 1995. In 2002, he stepped aside as CEO of locally based Goran Capital Inc. and vice chairman of its subsidiary, Symons International Group Inc., after Symons International sustained a string of losses on crop and non-standard automotive insurance.

 

He has been named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a director of the Columbia Club downtown.

 

After Symons left the insurance business, he started AGS Capital LLC, the venture capital firm that owns Fast Tek. With $21 million under management, AGS ranked 7th among Indiana venture capital firms in IBJ’s 2006 Book of Lists.

 

In his ruling, Carroll said Fast Tek and other AGS companies are so intertwined that there is no “meaningful” distinction among them. Other AGS companies include Superior Metals, Sam’s Technical Publishing, Point to Point and Desk Port Technologies.

 

All are operated from 9850 E. 30th St.

 

Carroll said Product Action, one of the area's fastest-growing companies, offered “overwhelming” evidence to buttress its claims. He said Fast Tek hired two Product Action employees who brought proprietary information about Product Action to their new jobs.

 

Carroll’s injunction said the former employees, Anthony Roark and Chan Chanthaphone, admitted taking the information, then took the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to testify.

 

Roark allegedly transferred operating methods, process flow charts, a quality manual and other trade secrets from Product Action computers to a zip drive, and then gave the information to other Fast Tek workers and used the information in Fast Tek operations.

 

Roark, who started working at a Fast Tek office in Saginaw, Mich., in 2004, climbed to vice president a year later. He resigned in December 2006.

The same month, Fast Tek President Scott A. Weaver resigned as president. Weaver owns 15 percent of AGS.

Chan Chanthaphone had provided engineering support to Product Action sales personnel before joining Fast Tek, according to the injunction.

 

Chanthaphone allegedly transferred sales and promotional information from Product Action computers to her home computer in May of last year. She began working at Fast Tek’s Indianapolis office six days later and became South Carolina sales director.

 

Chanthaphone resigned late last month.

 

The injunction said Symons and Weaver knew Roark had brought Product Action information to Fast Tek but didn’t stop him.

 

Symons, Weaver, Roark, Chanthaphone, Fast Tek and AGS violated the Indiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act and engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, the injunction said.

 

Carroll ordered the defendants to stop using the stolen information and return the materials. Carroll also appointed a computer expert to wipe the information from Fast Tek and AGS computers.

Fast Tek could face financial penalties if the case advances to trial and Product Action prevails.

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