Nike has convinced a federal judge in Portland, Oregon to force a former contractor to sign a settlement agreement ending a trade secrets theft dispute between the two parties. According to Nike’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in 2014, it enlisted Enter Play Sports Inc. (“EPS”), a lace-braiding company, to build samples of a shoe consisting of a 3-D braided “upper.” EPS and NIKE entered into a non-disclosure agreement in December 2012, which Nike alleges that EPS subsequently breached when it filed patent applications containing confidential information obtained during the parties' relationship.
In particular, Nike alleges that “on May 21, 2013, and June 3, 2013, unbeknownst to NIKE at the time, EPS filed provisional patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office directed to NIKE's Confidential Information, including at least three-dimensional braided uppers and methods of fabricating three-dimensional braided uppers.” As a result, Nike filed suit against EPS, alleging breach of their non-disclosure agreement and violation of the Oregon Trade Secrets Act.
The parties disputed the issues surrounding the initial filing in court for about a year before they agreed to participate in a judicial settlement conference in July 2015 with U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta. According to Judge Acosta, Enter Play's owner admitted during the settlement conference that any overlap between Nike's footwear inventions and anything in the patent applications would be considered Nike's property. Each side also agreed to keep any patent applications as property of the side that filed, according to the judge. On the heels of the settlement conference, however, Enter Play refused to sign the settlement agreement.
As a result, Nike filed suit and as of late last month, the court sided with Nike, ordering EPS to adhere to a previously agreed-upon settlement and sign the non-disclosure agreement.