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Supreme Court rejects appeal in Nokian Tyres industrial espionage case

Four former employees were denied leave to challenge the appellate court's ruling.

Rengas puristimessa Nokian tehtailla.
Image: Jussi Mansikka / Yle

Finland's Supreme Court has denied the prosecutor and four former employees of Nokian tyres leave to appeal the verdict of the Turku Appeals in what is being touted as Finland’s largest ever industrial espionage trial.

In 2010 and 2011, key personnel in Nokian Tyres' product development team moved to a new firm called Black Donuts Engineering. The dispute hinged on whether thousands of files that the former employees took with them to the new firm could be classified as business secrets.

In 2017, the trial reached a conclusion when the court ruled that — contrary to the Black Donuts claim that the knowledge was widely-known in the industry — much of that information was secret.

Turku appeals court reduced penalties

Initially, 10 former Nokian Tyres employees were convicted by the Pirkanmaa District Court for offences related to the disclosure and use of business secrets.

Most of the defendants were sentenced to suspended prison sentences and two were fined. The firm’s CEO and two executives were also sentenced to a three to five-year business ban.

The Turku Appeals Court upheld the lower court's ruling but reduced some of the sentences.

The appeal court dismissed the CEO's main charge and his suspended prison sentence was converted into a fine. In addition, it revoked the business ban imposed on the CEO and the other defendant.

The court also reduced four defendants' suspended sentences, leaving two others unchanged. The fines were also reduced.

However, the appellate court increased proceeds of crime forfeiture to the state to 556,800 euros from the 537,000 euros that the district court had originally ordered Black Donuts Engineering to pay.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court stated in a release that the prosecutor's application for leave to appeal concerned the proceeds of crime forfeiture to the state.

One of the defendants convicted by the district dourt had sought dismissal of charges and the other three petitions for leave to appeal their verdicts.

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