Innovate Sports, Columbia Sportswear settle lawsuit

Vancouver company, NCS Power, was also named in legal action

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EUGENE — A lawsuit brought by Eugene-based Innovative Sports against Columbia Sportswear has been settled, but the two parties in the bitter dispute have strongly differing views on the settlement agreement signed this week.

Innovative Sports sued Columbia last year, alleging that the Portland-based company violated non-disclosure agreements and stole trade secrets developed by Innovative to create heated apparel.

On March 22, the Lane County Circuit Court dismissed five of the six claims Innovative Sports filed against Columbia.

Under the settlement agreement signed this week, Innovative Sports agreed to release Columbia, its subsidiaries, employees and suppliers from any claims or damages in the matter. Innovative Sports and its CEO, Colby Taylor, also are barred from contacting Columbia and its employees under the terms of the agreement.

The suit also named NCS Power of Vancouver. Innovative Sports said the Vancouver company gave its confidential technology, information, and products to Columbia.

Columbia and Innovative Sports each agreed to pay their own legal fees; neither party paid anything to the other party.

Columbia declared the settlement agreement a victory in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

“Innovative Sports voluntarily dismissed all claims against Columbia and provided written assurances that no future claims would be made against Columbia,” Columbia said in the written statement. “Columbia made no payment to Innovative Sports.”

“The dismissal and withdrawal of all the claims confirms our contention that this lawsuit was a wasteful work of fiction,” Columbia’s general counsel, Peter Bragdon, said in the statement. “All of the terms of the written agreement for the dismissal of the claims are public and underscore what we have stated previously: Columbia refused to pay a single penny to settle frivolous and false claims.”

Innovative Sports’ CEO had a different reaction.

“While I am relieved that this process has come to an end, I feel as though our legal system didn’t explore every angle of this case and because of this, I am afraid large companies, like Columbia, will still take advantage of smaller companies like Innovative,” Taylor said in a written statement.

Taylor said the judge had denied a motion by Innovative Sports’ lawyer to postpone the case in order to gather more evidence.

“Information vital to the case was missing and wasn’t being voluntarily offered by Columbia,” Taylor said. “By denying our motion to postpone, we didn’t have the necessary time to ascertain that information, which made us severely limited in our capacity.”

Columbia said that Innovative Sports had received “multiple extensions” during the first nine months of litigation.

Taylor said that he views the settlement as “a catalyst for growth” and that the company is already working on some new products.

“I look forward to showing the public some really great technology in the near future,” Taylor said.