Judge: Making breast forms is no trade secret

Friday, December 31, 2004

ATLANTA - A district court judge dismissed claims by Coloplast that American Breast Care had misappropriated trade secrets to launch a competing breast form business. In a summary judgment filed Nov. 18, Judge Willis B. Hunt agreed with ABC’s contention that Coloplast’s Amoena division did not have trade secrets.

The judge examined seven purported trade secrets claimed by Coloplast, including the entire breast form production process and oven heating and curing protocols, and found that none of the so-called secrets met the definition of secret.

Refuting Coloplast’s contention that it had created a unique manufacturing process, the judge noted that the company had already made that process available to the public through patents and a promotional video entitiled “How a Breast Form is Born.”

Though ABC doesn’t believe its legal troubles with the largest manufacturer of breast forms is over, company officials are taking heart from the judge’s decision.

“If you can imagine having a multi-billion company suing you, it’s a great strain,” said Jay Markowitz, co-CEO at ABC. “Now I have one less headache, but it is starting to unwind.”

Coloplast doesn’t believe Hunt’s decision is conclusive. “We appealed the decision and don’t believe it’s final by any stretch,” said David Simic, vice president and general manager of Amoena.

American Breast Care set up shop in Marietta, Ga., last year after Coloplast moved the manufacturing of Amoena’s breast forms from Marietta to Germany. The new company was founded by Joachim “Jolly” Rechenberg, who also founded Amoena in the 1970s.

ABC also hired Amoena’s former vice president of sales, Jay Markowitz, and Lou Malice, formerly president of Amoena’s breast care division.