Columbia Sportswear has sued a former footwear designer for using company time, equipment and information to do work for competitors, according to a report in the Oregonian. Brian O'Boyle designed for several business rivals, including Crocs, according to a complaint filed in Multnomah County circuit court.
A Columbia spokesman told the Oregonian that O'Boyle worked for the company from 2003 until this month. Columbia declined to comment on the reasons for his recent departure, but the court filing said problems dated back to at least 2007.
According to the court filing, O'Boyle used Columbia computers and offices for extracurricular contracts and incorporated Columbia design elements in competitors' footwear. He allegedly operated through 1 Pen Inc., a Sherwood-based business registered in his name.
O'Boyle signed a confidentiality agreement with Columbia, which prohibits employees from disclosing protected information and gives the company rights to their designs. An employee handbook bans use of company equipment for outside work, and an ethics code bans employees from competing with Columbia, according to the filing.
The company is requesting payment of attorney fees and at least $175,000. The amount consists of what O'Boyle allegedly earned from competitors as well as his Columbia salary during that time.