Honda Talon (copy)

A screen shot of the post on hondasxs.com showing Honda South Carolina's Talon vehicles inside the company's Timmonsville manufacturing campus. Honda has gone to federal court to find out who posted the photo and other information about the vehicle, which went on sale this year. 

Honda of South Carolina says it knows who took the unauthorized photos of its new Talon side-by-side sports vehicle inside its Timmonsville factory.

Honda said in a federal court filing last week that it identified the photographer and deposed him on July 30. Honda also sent a subpoena to the photographer's current employer seeking further information. Responses to that subpoena are due Tuesday and a federal judge gave Honda until Sept. 11 to file a complaint that names the defendants.

Honda previously obtained the identities of two people who posted Talon photos and specifications to online forums devoted to power sports vehicles.

To date, they have been referred to only as John Does.

The Talon 1000R and Talon 1000X are Honda’s first foray into the "sport" side-by-side market, which features high-precision off-road vehicles for more than one passenger. Honda said it invested more than $45 million in a new 115,000-square-foot facility off Interstate 95 to build the Talons.

But before their official launch on Nov. 27, photos and detailed, confidential information about the Talon models started showing up on Internet sites hondasxs.com and HondaProKevin.com.

The manufacturer says the Internet postings violate state and federal trade secrets laws, as well as breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty laws. Honda has been investigating the unauthorized photographs and postings since its lawsuit was filed in January.

The manufacturer is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

Port of Charleston cranes for Wando Welch Terminal (copy) (copy)

Ship-to-shore cargo cranes built by ZPMC in China arrive at the Port of Charleston's Columbus Street Terminal in 2018. The Trump administration recently removed cranes from a list of tariffs that were set to take effect later this year. File/State Ports Authority/Provided 

Tariff relief

The State Ports Authority avoided an unexpected $36 million charge for a dozen ship-to-shore cranes it purchased when the U.S. Trade Representative last week removed the equipment from a list of tariffs that were supposed to go into effect later this year.

The removal followed testimony from seaport operators around the country who said the extra costs would hurt their ability to add infrastructure needed to support big container ships that can carry 14,000 or more cargo boxes on every voyage.

The tariff "would negatively affect (the authority’s) competitiveness" and possibly delay delivery of cranes that have been ordered, Jim Newsome, the SPA's president and CEO, said in a letter to the federal trade office. The authority operates the Port of Charleston.

"The ability to purchase equipment at a competitive price is critical to the port’s growth strategy and plays a direct role in the long-term success of our state, region and nation," Newsome said in his letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The cranes, which are only built in China, cost about $12 million apiece. The authority's most recent crane purchases include seven for its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant and five for the under-construction Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston.

President Donald Trump last week delayed the latest round of tariffs until Dec. 15 as the United States and China continue to negotiate a trade deal.

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


Fibermaker to add 4 production lines, boost payroll (copy)

Lauscha Fiber International converts glass pellets into fibers used in a variety of filters at its plant near Summerville. Boston-based STAG Industrial Inc. recently purchased the manufacturer's site for $7.1 million. File

Changing hands

A Boston-based real estate investment trust has purchased the Summerville site where Lauscha Fiber International has been operating for more than two decades.

STAG Industrial Inc. bought the 87,900-square-foot property at 105 Eastport Lane for $7.1 million. The seller, Buerger Development Corp., built the building for Lauscha in 1997 and expanded it in 2011. Lauscha will continue to operate at the site.

STAG now owns 44 buildings in South Carolina totaling more than 9 million square feet. It previously purchased a 500,355-square-foot distribution center and warehouse at the Crowfield Corporate Center in Goose Creek for $40.4 million. Quoizel Inc., a distributor of lamps and residential lighting systems, is the tenant at that site.

Lauscha produces high-temperature materials for air filters, oil filters, water filters and insulation from glass pellets.

Hagood Morrison, Hagood S. Morrison, John Beam and Brooks Courtney of Bridge Commercial represented the seller in the transaction.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_