WWD.com/business-news/legal/columbia-sues-former-designer-2253763/

Columbia Sportswear Co. has filed a lawsuit against its former lead footwear designer accusing him of working for competitors, including Crocs Inc., while it employed him.

This story first appeared in the September 2, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In a complaint filed Aug. 24 in a Multnomah County circuit court in Portland, Ore., the apparel maker alleges Brian O’Boyle had set up his own design business, 1 Pen Inc., in order to do freelance work for other companies. The arrangement violated an employee confidentiality agreement he signed in 2003, the company alleged.

According to Columbia, O’Boyle undertook more than $50,000 worth of projects for Crocs and other competitors and incorporated “Columbia design elements” into his outside work. The company said he left in July but declined to disclose the circumstances of his departure.

“Some or all of the competitive designs were made from Columbia’s offices and computers, and during Columbia business hours,” the sportswear firm said in its complaint, further alleging O’Boyle did not disclose the full breadth of his activity when it confronted him.

O’Boyle could not immediately be reached for comment, as a phone number listed for him had been disconnected.

Columbia is seeking an injunction barring O’Boyle from misappropriating its work, disgorgement of any profits ruled unjust, legal costs and other, unspecified damages.