Columbia makes Gore complaint

Columbia claims ‘exclusionary’ practices stopping the footwear market accessing other waterproof technologies

Columbia Sportswear and its Italian subsidiary OutDry Technologies have filed a complaint with the Commission of the European Union against W. L. Gore & Associates, claiming Gore has violated European Union competition laws by ‘abusing its dominant position in the market for waterproof breathable membranes for footwear’. 

Columbia and OutDry have claimed that Gore’s commercial practices are ‘exclusionary’ and have prevented manufacturers, brand owners and consumers access to other waterproof product innovations, such as those developed and marketed by Columbia and OutDry. A number of brands use Gore-Tex in their shoes, particularly trail running shoes, such as Asics, Merrell, Innov-8 (pictured, the 313 GTX which features Gore-Tex) and New Balance.

The duo have claimed a similar breach of competition laws in relation to waterproof gloves.

The US Federal Trade Commission has recently issued a subpoena to Gore in connection with its own investigation into whether the company has “engaged in unfair methods of competition ‘by contracts, exclusionary practices, or other conduct related to waterproof or waterproof and breathable membranes or technologies and related products’.”

Columbia and OutDry welcomed this news, with Peter Bragdon, Columbia’s senior vice president of legal and corporate affairs, saying: “Columbia and OutDry Technologies have long been concerned that W. L. Gore & Associates’ commercial practices systematically prevent consumers, brand owners and manufacturers from gaining access to competing product innovations in waterproof breathable footwear and gloves.

“We believe Gore’s exclusionary conduct has deprived…enthusiasts across the European Union, the United States and other regions throughout the world from learning about, experiencing and benefiting from new and innovative products.”