Home Detroit Press Releases 2009 Saline Resident Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets from Quicken Loans, Inc.
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Saline Resident Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets from Quicken Loans, Inc.

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 03, 2009
  • Eastern District of Michigan (313) 226-9100

A federal indictment was unsealed today charging Michael Hummel, age 35, of Saline, MI, with wire fraud and theft of trade secrets from his former employer, Quicken Loans Inc. ("Quicken"), announced United States Attorney Terrence Berg. Mr. Berg was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

As alleged in the indictment, from February 2005, until November 2006, Hummel was employed at Quicken as a Senior Web Developer and Sr. Software Engineer, working on the Web Interaction Team at its offices at Livonia, Michigan, or from his residence. According to the indictment Hummel allegedly stole a Quicken proprietary project. The project was a computer operating framework which supported its websites and their public interface; specifically methods, processes, programs, codes, and commands which caused webpages to load and be displayed on Quicken's websites for public use. As such, the project allowed Quicken's websites to operate quickly and efficiently, thereby providing the public with better service on the websites. The project was Quicken's trade secret and its intellectual property.

The indictment further alleges that beginning in May 2006, while employed by Quicken, Hummel began consulting with another company to create websites for it; in doing so, he illegally stole Quicken's trade secrets and intellectual property. Hummel then used them to help the other company build its websites. Quicken was based in Livonia, Michigan, and sold financial products to the public, including residential mortgages and loans. Quicken offered its products to the public by websites and other forms of advertising.

Quicken maintained a Web Interaction Team whose members (including Hummel) worked to improve its websites, including the interface between the portions of its websites which the public would see and use (the website's front end) and the data which Quicken used to support its websites (the website's back end).

United States Attorney Terrence Berg said, "Protecting the competitive edge technology of our companies through vigorous enforcement of our federal trade secret laws is a top priority of this office. Both employees and employers should be aware that stealing proprietary trade secrets to gain an economic advantage is a serious federal offense that will be prosecuted aggressively."

Special Agent in Charge Arena stated, “Southeastern Michigan is an area of innovation and protecting proprietary information priority for the FBI. The United States government put a priority on protecting intellectual property and the FBI will continue to aggressively pursue allegations involving the theft of trade secrets.”

Conviction on the charge of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets carries a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The count charging wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of twenty years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The indictment is a result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Varner.

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