Friday, November 09, 2007, 11/09/2007 07:50:00 AM

Trade Secrets and Sneakers -- Nike's Case

Or maybe you call them tennis shoes, or trainers, or athletic shoes.

In any event, from KGW.com in Portland, Oregon, a story about how the feds nabbed a print shop employee, one Reynold Chapin.

Investigators say Chapin claimed to have a copy of Nike's unreleased Fall 2008 catalog and was willing to leak the information, including designs and prices, to the highest bidder.

The FBI says that Chapin wrote an anonymous letter to the CEO of the Saucony Corporation, a Nike competitor, and, apparently, to four other shoe CEO's.

The FBI then set up a sting with a federal agent posing as a shoe company executive and offering $2,000 for the catalog. He was charged on Thursday with theft of trade secrets.
According to the FBI, Chapin says he got the unreleased Nike catalog while working at a local printing press.

There could be some interesting legal issues in the case since the catalog was obviously ultimately meant for public disclosure. In addition, the case may ride on the level of protections that the print shop initiated. Nevertheless, the fact that Chapin wrote his letters anonymously indicates he probably knew what he was doing was wrong.

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