Truck Maker Says Halliburton Stole Designs


     HOUSTON (CN) - A wireline truck maker claims in court that Halliburton swiped its proprietary designs and had a competitor build two trucks that were copycats "down to the studs," along with reverse-engineered blueprints that Halliburton claims as its own.
     Synergy H Industries sued Halliburton Energy in Services Harris County Court.
     Wireline trucks contain cables that oil-and-gas well operators use to insert and withdraw equipment or measurement devices into wells.
     "Synergy manufactures wireline trucks for some of the largest operators in the energy sector. Synergy invested significant resources over the years to develop its own proprietary designs and specifications for a collection of innovative features involving its wireline trucks which make Synergy wireline trucks the leader in the industry," the company says in its complaint.
     Houston-based Synergy claims it "has taken extensive steps to protects its designs," and "has never disclosed, shared or licensed it designs to anyone - much less Halliburton."
     Synergy says it started making wireline trucks for Halliburton in 2005, and did so for years with the understanding that it maintained ownership of its designs.
     "Halliburton eventually insisted on having a written agreement to govern the relationship and specifically wanted that agreement to be in the form of their standard Master Purchase Agreement ('MPA') that they utilized with most vendors," according to the complaint. "Negotiations for the MPA took over a year. Eventually a Master Purchase Agreement between Halliburton and Synergy was signed with an effective date of January 1, 2011."
     Synergy says the deal prohibits Halliburton from using its proprietary wireline truck designs. But in June 2011, Synergy claims, the president of its affiliate Synergy Wire & Cable, Phillip Schultz, visited Turnkey Industries' workplace in Magnolia, Texas to meet with Turnkey's agent Jeff Conter, and noticed a Synergy wireline truck that Turnkey had built for Halliburton.
     "Conter advised Schultz that Halliburton had brought Synergy's truck over to Turnkey to use as an example/sample of what Halliburton wanted Turnkey to build. Conter further advised Schultz that Turnkey had never built a wireline truck before and was instructed by Halliburton to 'copy' Synergy's wireline truck design," the complaint states.
     "Around August 2011 Synergy discovered that Turnkey had in fact built two wireline trucks for Halliburton that were nearly identical to Synergy's wireline truck design. Synergy learned that Halliburton had contracted with Turnkey specifically to copy Synergy's wireline truck design."
     Synergy adds: "Acting as Halliburton's agent, Turnkey copied Synergy's truck 'down to the studs,' created blueprints with drawings of the truck as well as the layout of the Synergy wireline truck design, and sent those drawings to Halliburton (because per their contract, those drawings 'were owned' by Halliburton.) Halliburton substituted its own title block superimposed on the Turnkey-created blueprints." (Parentheses in original.)
     Synergy says Halliburton's actions are an "unauthorized, unsolicited and prohibited" use of its designs.
     "Because Halliburton by contract with Turnkey 'owns' Turnkey's drawings, blueprints and specifications made of the Synergy wireline truck design, Synergy's designs are now contained in Halliburton's computer system," the complaint states. "With Halliburton's stated intent to disseminate Synergy's design to other wireline truck manufacturers worldwide Synergy's competitors will be poised to build trucks identical to Synergy's wireline trucks, all in direct breach of the Halliburton-Synergy MPA and all to the great disadvantage and damage to Synergy."
     Synergy seeks an injunction to stop Halliburton from releasing or distributing the blueprints, and damages for breach of contract.
     It is represented by Gregg Weinberg with Roberts Markel Weinberg of Houston.