Columbia and OutDry file complaint against Gore, FTC issues subpoena

On Monday, June 13, Columbia Sportswear Company announced that the company and its Italian subsidiary, OutDry Technologies S.r.l., have filed a complaint with the Commission of the European Union against W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., alleging that W. L. Gore & Associates has violated European Union competition laws by abusing its dominant position in the market for waterproof breathable membranes for footwear and gloves.

Columbia and OutDry Technologies also welcomed the recent public news that the United States Federal Trade Commission has issued a subpoena to W. L. Gore in connection with its own investigation into whether Gore has “engaged in unfair methods of competition ‘by contracts, exclusionary practices, or other conduct related to waterproof or waterproof and breathable membranes or technologies and related products.’”

“Columbia and OutDry Technologies have long been concerned that W. L. Gore & Associates’ commercial practices systematically prevent consumers, brand owners and manufacturers from gaining access to competing product innovations in waterproof breathable footwear and gloves. We believe W. L. Gore’s exclusionary conduct has deprived outdoor enthusiasts across the European Union, the United States and other regions throughout the world from learning about, experiencing and benefiting from new and innovative products,” said Peter Bragdon, Columbia’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs.

Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, Columbia now sells products in more than 100 countries. In addition to the Columbia brand, Columbia Sportswear Company also owns outdoor brands Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, and Montrail.

Filed under: Gear News

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Comments

skibum12
9 reviewer rep
119 forum posts
June 14, 2011 at 4:11 p.m. (EDT)

I think this is going to be a huge year for Columbia.  I've been reading about some fantastic product launches coming out soon.

canarado
19 reviewer rep
3 forum posts
June 14, 2011 at 9:54 p.m. (EDT)

Thank goodness for this news! Too many quality boots stuck in the mud with Gore contracts! I would love to get a pair of boots with Gore, eVent, or even no membrane......currently its all 90% Gore. ((

riverridgeray
0 reviewer rep
28 forum posts
June 15, 2011 at 10:22 p.m. (EDT)

It seems strange that Columbia is going the "lawsuit route" on competing with Goretex.

Their products differ so widely in price.

I've been in the outdoor industry since Gore-tex started iup n the late 1970's.

It makes sense to me that Gore-tex hangs on to their market share on: reputation, percieved quality, and proven durability-------despite their higher price.

Columbia sells hundreds of millions of dollars of outerwear and footwear on price--------and an implied suggestion that their waterproof-breathable is: "just as good as Gore-tex."

 

What is the conflict?

markhor
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts
June 16, 2011 at 1:21 a.m. (EDT)

Bold move by Columbia.  As a former associate of W.L. Gore, I can only say that they are a very aggressive company with a unique and innovative approach to their culture and business.  They are a private company and don't see much red ink.  They recruit some of the very best and brightest people I've ever met.  Their engineers and their legal team are awesome.  We may see the apocalypse before this thing ends in Columbia's favor.

philipwerner
130 reviewer rep
130 forum posts
June 16, 2011 at 9:27 a.m. (EDT)

True - but there is the court of public opinion.

PH2011
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
June 16, 2011 at 2:04 p.m. (EDT)

looks like its not a product suit, its a complaint they filed for Gore's practices. google says gore tried to block out dry patent in 08 and was shot down by the EU. I'm guessing gore is trying to keep products like out dry, event, dermizax, and neoshell out of mfgs via business practices.. guessing probably pulling licenses if the use any of those products in any of their lines. If this is true then looks like we will have more options from the mfgs we like. will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Perfect Defense Technology
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
June 22, 2011 at 11:12 p.m. (EDT)

Gore-tex has been notorious in biding exclusive contracts with customers,  not only in outdoor apparel products but also in government uniform contracts.  For example, in Taiwan police uniform market, Gore convinced police officers to adopt unrealistic specifications, such as moisture vapor transmission resistance Ret <4, so that no one else can bid on it except Gore.  Ironically  Gore's product cannot meet this specifications either, yet Gore could obtain certificate of passing spec from SGS test center.  This practice has been going on for a few decades, because government officers could benefit from Gore's unfair practice.  Gore's illicit practice will be revealed to public sooner or later.  Additionally, Gore has recently retreated from health care fabrics business because end users discovered its quality issue.  This is not just anti-trust issue but also illegal exclusive contract practice.  It is time for them to stop it all together.  Gore's founders will be very angry if they know what their sales & marketing people were doing things so wrong.

markhor
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts
June 23, 2011 at 1:21 p.m. (EDT)

I am still legally bound by a confidentiality agreement that I signed when I was employed by W. L. Gore.  Smart move on their part.  Just trust me.  The things I learned.  You wouldn't believe.  An empire from a few chemicals.

Callahan
245 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
June 24, 2011 at 11:33 a.m. (EDT)

Competition being fair is a good thing

Perfect Defense Technology
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
June 24, 2011 at 11:27 p.m. (EDT)

American business laws favors wealthy.  After decades of unfair competition, Gore-tex has become a gigantic cash cow, with billions billions dollars at hand.  Gore's unfair business practice also include piling millions millions dollars suing all their rivals irregardless any reason.  Most small rivals could not afford mountains of legal fee to fight back, losing ground in American courts who favor wealthy.  Gore could easily pick their favorite court, then influenced court to find their favorite judge, and then hired attorneys who are judge's best friends to win most cases.  Abraham Lincoln has set free slaves, yet the spirit of slavery laws still inherited in American business laws.  Gore could continue its unfair competition in American injustice legal system.  I guess Columbia has better bet by fighting Gore at European court, which is a brilliant move.  Hope European courts will bring Final Judgement Day against Gore.

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