Several days ago, the Omega Tool Corp. (a Tool & Dye supplier to General Motors) released a promotional video that lauded the company’s manufacturing capabilities. In the video, clear images of a car nose-piece was shown and oops! It’s from the yet-to-be-released 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7!
The video shows how their (injection?) mold works, and the recess for the Corvette crossed-flag logo is clearly visible. Omega posted the video to YouTube, where a blogger from CorvetteOnline.com saw the video, and did a piece entitled “How Corvette C6 bumpers are made”. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that the bumper wasn’t from a C6. In fact, the front facia very closely resembled the renderings of the forthcoming C7! And the website quickly updated the story to that effect.
As you can imagine, the car blogosphere lit up like the Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve. The images were paraded as a leak, and the General’s closely guarded C6 replacement was partially unveiled. Could it be the split-window monster that we all hope for?!
Omega quickly removed the video, but it was too late. Damage done. Many speculated that the leak was made on purpose. Others felt bad for the bumbling marketing intern that caused the leak. GM and Omega were keeping their mouths shut.
With no official confirmation or denial, everybody assumed the leak was real. Then today, the car blog Jalopnik received a letter from Omega’s attorneys. It demanded Jalopnik remove the images immediately, stating; “The Illegal Content includes a video that was wrongfully and illegally posted to the internet by an unrelated and unauthorized third-party and images from the video. The Images show the mold design and the mold and that Omega manufactured (the “Mold”) to produce a front bumper for a General Motors Company prototype (the “Part”). More specifically, the Images also show what the Mold looks like, how it is used to manufacture the Part, and what the Part looks like. The Images disclose the trade secrets and the intellectual property of both Omega and General Motors Company. Continued access to the Images and their content will cause extensive harm to Omega, potentially resulting in millions of dollars in damages.”
So basically, “Yeah, that was from the C7, now take it down”.
By threatening legal action, Omega confirmed what everybody thought. But their legal-ease was a bit weak Posting the Illegal Content violates the Uniform Trade Secret Act (“UTSA”) by misappropriating Omega’s trade secrets. Specifically, your disclosure of the Illegal Content on your website is illegal because you disclosed the Images without the express or implied consent of Omega and, at the time of disclosure, you knew or had reason to know that your knowledge and/or access to the Images was derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it. Simply put, it is well-known in the industry, including automotive publications such as Jalopnik, that the information the Images contain is closely guarded proprietary information, and not consensually available to the public.
Now I’m not a lawyer, but Omega’s assertion that it was illegal to publish content, that they themselves allowed into the ‘public domain’ i.e. YouTube, flies directly in the face of our right to free speech, and the freedom of the press, as granted in the First Amendment of our Constitution.
We’re excited to know what the front end of the 2014 Chevy Corvette will look like. But we’re also a bit shocked at Omega’s lawyer’s complete disregard for our Constitution.