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TECHNOLOGY : Odetics Accuses Former Employee of Stealing Design Data

Compiled by Dean Takahashi, Times staff writer

Odetics Inc., the Anaheim-based maker of electronics equipment, said Monday that it is suing a former employee and Irvine-based International Test Instruments Inc. for allegedly stealing its engineering data on a new product and using the information to start a competing company.

The suit, filed April 27 in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, charges that James P. Pope and ITI stole Odetics design and engineering data for a new generation of the company’s TIA 3100 time interval analyzer, which evaluates the accuracy of computer storage products.

Pope said in a statement that the Odetics charges are “entirely spurious” and that the sole purpose of the suit is to destroy his new company in its development stage. He said the company will vigorously defend itself and seek recovery for any damages incurred to defend itself.

“ITI has produced a new product with new technology, taking great care to avoid any improper use of prior technology,” the statement says. “Odetics’ response to the early success of ITI is to use its financial strength to try to stop the potential competition of ITI. Odetics’ further attempt to publicize this lawsuit is further evidence of its overall plan to drive ITI out of business.”

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Pope worked as director of sales and marketing for Odetics’ Kode division from January, 1986, until December, 1988. A month later, Pope formed ITI and developed a Digital Timing Analyzer product that the company began shipping in January.

The suit charges that Pope had access to secret Odetics proprietary technology for the time interval analyzer and that in July and August of 1988 Pope conspired to steal engineering data and technical evaluations from the company to use for developing the ITI product.

Odetics also accuses Pope of soliciting company employees to join ITI. Odetics’ chief engineer on the TIA development project, Nicholas Perna, resigned in January, 1989, and joined Pope’s company.

Other Odetics charges against Pope are breach of contract, competing unfairly, misappropriating secret information, and breach of fiduciary duty. The company did not specify damages in the suit.


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