Wednesday, December 09, 2009, 12/09/2009 10:45:00 AM

Trade Secrets of . . . Shoe Design: Crocs Gets Sued in Trade Secrets Case

By Todd is reporting that Crocs is being sued Columbia Sportswear for allegedly misappropriating Columbia's trade secrets received from a former Columbia employee.

In a filing in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Washington County-based Columbia accused the Colorado-based company of misappropriating trade secrets, intentional contract interference and aiding and abetting breach of duty of loyalty. The suit seeks at least $310,000 in damages and asks a judge to halt sales of certain footwear and give up all profits.

Tia Mattson, a Crocs spokeswoman, declined comment because she had not seen the amended complaint. The accusations were added to a lawsuit Columbia filed in August accusing Brian O'Boyle of designing footwear for Crocs while working as a senior footwear designer at Columbia. O'Boyle said Tuesday he could not comment on the allegations while the lawsuit was pending.

Columbia alleges Crocs earned $10 million in revenue and $3 million in profit on four models that incorporate O'Boyle's designs, including Electro clog and Prepair collection of recovery footwear, said Peter Bragdon, general counsel and vice president for Columbia. Columbia alleges Crocs paid O'Boyle more than $120,000 for the work.

"We just can't allow a competitor to sneak in the back door to take advantage of the investment we made," Bragdon said. O'Boyle, who spent nearly seven years at Nike before joining Columbia in 2003, no longer works at Columbia. Records show he invented a side element of a shoe upper for which Nike holds a patent.


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