Two film manufacturers in Rhinelander, Wis. - American Plastics Co. Inc. and Advanced Barrier Extrusion LLC (ABX) - have settled a lawsuit that stemmed from American Plastics' allegations against three former employees that left to start ABX.
``We came to a resolution. We're hoping to work together in the future,'' said Anthony Haug, ABX president.
In March, APC filed suit in Oneida County Circuit Court against Haug, Steven Pawelko and Kevin Kopplin, claiming that they misappropriated trade secrets, stole computer data and conspired to start a competing company while still working at American Plastics.
American Plastics, a subsidiary of Appleton, Wis.-based Appleton Papers Inc., is a blown film extruder. Advanced Barrier Extrusion makes cast film - which ABX officials had contended is an entirely different process. They denied the charges in the lawsuit.
The suit was settled in late 2006. Both companies agreed to a final judgment, filed Nov. 13 by Judge Robert Kinney.
Both companies declined to comment, beyond confirming they settled the case.
``The parties in the suit have reached a confidential settlement, and that settlement does not allow us to comment any further on the case,'' said Bill Van Den Brandt, manager of corporate communications at Appleton Papers.
ABX, which last summer won a $248,760 grant from Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle to build a rail spur for delivery of plastic pellets, is moving ahead to make multilayer cast films. Haug said markets include medical and food packaging, including film for deep-draw thermoforming of packages for bacon, sausage and cheese.
Haug said ABX is running several materials, such as cast nylons with barrier layers for food and cast polypropylene for retail bags.
Terms of the final judgment include:
* Haug, Pawelko and Kopplin had to turn over to American Plastics and Appleton Papers all proprietary or confidential data and documents they took, received or copied from the companies, and certify that they did not retain any copies.
* Pawelko had to deliver to American Plastics and Appleton Papers all Appleton information contained on a laptop computer and two computer hard drives, and to certify he has not kept any copies.
* An outside firm can image the hard drives of all other ABX computers and will will retain custody of the images.
* For 12 months from the judgment date, the defendants may not disclose any confidential material from the Appleton information.
* For 12 months, Appleton Papers can conduct a forensic examination of the computer images to confirm that none of its information is there.