EUGENE, Ore. — A local company alleges Columbia Sportswear Corporation stole its trade secrets.
Columbia representatives made the trek down from Portland to Eugene Friday afternoon to take part in a court ordered settlement meeting with owner of the Eugene-based company, Innovative Sports.
The case has been going on for nearly a year now, but Innovative Sports said the alleged misappropriation of trade secrets spanned years.
“When we were initially going to meet with Columbia, I was very excited because I was always impressed with their clothing,” said Colby Taylor, Innovative Sports CEO.
Taylor still appreciates the international brand, but the series of events leading up to Friday’s court meeting tarnished the image he built up over the years. Innovative says it’s worked with heated technology for years.
What started out as just a warm-up sleeve for pitchers grew into full-form jackets for the likes of Mike Belotti and even the department of defense, so Innovative managers met with Columbia reps with hopes of marketing the concept to the masses. They say, initially, they walked away feeling like the two were going to do big things together, but that was short lived.
According to Taylor, Columbia said it just wasn’t interested. But not long after those talks, the sportswear company came out with these heated jackets.
“I was just really disappointed because I had come to them telling them we could easily deploy this technology in mass quantities across the world, and they behaved as if it was too expensive,” Taylor said.
Even more disappointing to Taylor is the damage done to the image of such products.
Columbia issued three different recalls.
KEZI 9 News tried to get Columbia reps to give their side of the story, but they didn’t say much, only noting that the case has been dismissed a number of times.
“The lawsuit is frivolous. Reporter: What’s your argument? Our argument is that the plaintiff has alleged that there has been trade secrets stolen but hasn’t been able to identify any trade secrets it has or that Columbia has used,” said Tim Dejong, Columbia’s attorney.
Taylor thinks otherwise and says he’ll fight as long as he can and not just for himself.
“The point of all of this is to preserve the technologies that we pioneered and to protect other businesses in Oregon from happening to them. That’s at the root of this whole matter,” Taylor said.
Friday’s settlement hearing was more like a refereed argument. The judge sat in while each side presented its case, and after he gave his opinion. As to what that opinion was, we won’t know just yet. The judge issued a gag order, so neither side can tell us what happened.