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Eugene company sues over trade secrets

A company based in Eugene, Oregon has introduced business litigation against a number of other companies claiming that they misappropriated trade secrets and used them in products that have recently hit the market.

The plaintiff in the case is a company called Innovative Sports, Inc.

The Eugene company is going after nationally known Oregon company Columbia Sportswear Company in addition to Washington-based companies The Allyn Group and NCS Power. The lawsuit states that the companies breached their agreement with Innovative Sports, Inc., violated non-disclosure agreements and misappropriated trade secrets.

The litigation is centered on technology that allows a clothing maker to install heating devices right into the clothing. Consumers in Oregon, and throughout the rest of the United States, have likely seen advertisements for this breakthrough in winter sportswear, coming in the form of heated gloves and coats.

While the Columbia brand name might be on many of the heated clothing products, Innovative Sports contends that it developed the technology and shared it with the other companies. These companies had a relationship in place that was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. The information on this new technology was conveyed to the companies through confidential meetings.

Following the meetings where this information was exchanged, Innovative Sports claims that the two other companies quickly ended the business relationship and disregarded the non-disclosure agreement by divulging information about the technology to third party companies. Those companies also allegedly developed products that implemented the technology. This, according to the lawsuit, was a scene that took place over the span of several years.

Columbia now has a line of heated clothing products that uses what is called Omni-Heat Electric. Innovative Sports said that line implements their secret technology, as did heated jackets made by Columbia in 2009 that are now discontinued.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the alleged offenses.

Source: Transworld Business, "Columbia enters 'heated' lawsuit," Haley Arsenault, March 30, 2012

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