By: Mark Fitzgerald
Like Jason in the Friday the 13th horror-movie series, the trade-secrets lawsuit Goss International first filed against a competitor back in 1984 has been given up for dead numerous times — only to spring back to life and haunt a new generation.
Many industry observers thought the case finally had been killed in February of last year, when U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle, sitting here, tossed it out with this stinging remark: “This case has wasted so much judicial time that it would be an abuse of the federal courts to reinstate it.” But reinstate it an appeals court did — and lawyers for the parties will meet soon for yet another stab at a settlement.
Much has changed over 18 years: Defendant Tensor Group Inc. didn’t even exist when the suit was first filed, while Goss has gone through four name changes and two bankruptcies, and it no longer manufactures presses in the United States.
Goss originally sued DEV Industries, claiming it stole drawings to make clones of the Goss Community, the best-selling newspaper press of all time. As the case bounced between district and appellate courts, Goss was awarded $2,675,000 by a jury, DEV went out of business, and Goss alleged a new company, Tensor, used “tainted” DEV drawings to clone the Community. Tensor President Don Gustafson said Goss’ underlying claim makes no sense: “We’re not a ‘clone’ company. We’re not even similar.” Tensor’s 1400-series singlewide press, he said, “doesn’t even have any common parts with” the Community.
Goss attorney Michael Warnecke said Tensor has held up settlement by refusing to provide sales information: “At this point, the courts have screwed around with it so long, the only thing we are asking for is damages for lost profits and reasonable royalties. The old adage ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is being proven here.”