After years of litigation, Seirus was handed a final victory in a patent battle with Columbia Sportswear over the glove-maker’s HeatWave lining.
What began as an allegation of patent infringement from Columbia over its Omni-Heat lining in 2013 grew into a protracted legal fight that included a trial in 2017. The jury found that patent infringement on Seirus’ part was unwillful, although the court still awarded $3 million in damages to Columbia at that time. In November 2019, a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s Southern District of California Court killed Columbia’s case against Seirus—including the damages owed.
Michael Carey, president and CEO of Seirus innovation, called it a big win in a David-versus-Goliath situation in an interview at Seirus’ booth on Day 1 of the Show. “David doesn’t win most of the time,” said Carey, who started the company in 1984, and it’s still a family-run business today. The legal battle has taken a toll, he said. “The legal system is really slanted toward deep pockets. We were lucky enough that we had reserves that we could sustain the onslaught.”
Columbia did not respond to an inquiry about the case from The Daily ahead of press time.
Seirus viewed HeatWave as a combination of two products. “We didn’t believe it was patentable when we first came out with it,” Carey said. Columbia viewed things differently, and still does: Last year, it filed a separate but related suit against Seirus that accuses the company’s executives of alleged racketeering. Columbia will seek $20 million in damages in the U.S. District Court in Oregon.
For now, Seirus is savoring its win in the U.S. Court of Appeals, and Carey seemed glad for a breather. “I think there was probably a lot of reservation from some of our dealers [that went] unspoken,” Carey said. “Because no one wants to get involved when there’s some kind of litigation.”
At the Show, those dealers were able to see and order a new product from Seirus that uses the technology at the center of the patent suit: The company introduced two styles of its shiny new HeatWave baselayers for fall 2020.
This story ran in The Daily — Day 3 at Outdoor + Snow Show 2020. Read the full issue and all other issues of The Daily here.