Judge refuses to dismiss Columbia lawsuit; Vancouver firm involved
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Eugene, Ore. — Lane County Circuit Court Judge Charles Carlson on Monday turned down Columbia Sportswear Co.'s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against it by a Eugene company that alleges Columbia essentially stole the smaller firm's technology. But he asked the Eugene firm, Innovative Sports, to provide more specific information about the trade secrets it alleges Columbia misappropriated.
Innovative Sports sued Columbia in March, alleging that the Portland company misappropriated Innovative Sports' technology and trade secrets for making heated clothing, allegations that Columbia has denied. The suit also names NCS Power of Vancouver. Innovative Sports says the Vancouver company gave its confidential technology, information, and products to Columbia.
Innovative Sports CEO Colby Taylor alleged in the lawsuit that Columbia was interested in partnering with the Eugene firm. After Columbia executives signed a 10-year nondisclosure agreement, according to the lawsuit, Taylor gave technical, proprietary information about the firm's heated jackets to Columbia employees. Then, Columbia broke off talks with Innovative Sports and said it was pursuing a nonelectrical technology for heating clothing, although that product never came to market, the lawsuit said.
Columbia's attorneys asked that the lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that it was frivolous and that Innovative Sports' attorneys had both withdrawn as a result.
"After being confronted with public information that plaintiff's claims are meritless, plaintiff's attorneys fired their client," the
Portland firm of Stoll Stoll Berne Lokting & Shlachter said in court documents dated July 16. Without an attorney, Innovative Sports' lawsuit could not go forward, Stoll Berne said.
Stoll Berne attorney Timothy DeJong said last week that the allegation that Innovative Sports had no attorney is incorrect. His firm had been told that both of Innovative Sports' law firms had withdrawn, he said. Innovative Sports' Chicago law firm, Edelson McGuire, has withdrawn, he said, but a Eugene law firm, Moore & Associates, is still representing Innovative Sports.
Moore & Associates and Edelson McGuire did not respond to requests for comment.
Taylor said in an interview that his Chicago attorney is no longer representing him because the court denied the Chicago firm's application to appear in the suit because its malpractice insurance deductible is higher than allowed by Oregon law.
DeJong said prior to Monday's hearing that Columbia continues to believe the lawsuit is frivolous — "From our perspective, he's got no trade secrets." There was no agreement, verbal or otherwise, that Columbia would make jackets with Innovative Sports, according to Columbia's written response to the suit.