Toy Biz, Inc.In 1997, Centuri, the parent company of Estes Industries, sued Toy Biz and New England Paper for allegedly stealing trade secrets including critical design components used for Estes's solid-propellant rocket motors and their igniters.
Toy Biz, a company now called "Marvel Toys" and owned by Marvel Comics, acquired Quest Aerospace in September of 1996. The lawsuits filed by Centuri allege that Toy Biz obtained confidential information on Estes's patents and designs through Quest Aerospace.
New England Paper, for more than 30 years, manufactured the paper tubes used by Estes to make their model rocket motors. The lawsuits allege that New England Paper disclosed or used Estes's confidential and proprietary model rocket motor tube specifications and tolerances when manufacturing motor tubes for Quest.
The lawsuits also claim that Toy Biz sabotaged its relationship with New England Paper. New England Paper stopped selling motor tubes to Centuri just months after Toy Biz acquired Quest.
According to Centuri, New England Paper claimed that Estes motor tubes were too difficult to produce. Centuri's attorney, Kutak Rock, repsonded saying that the specifications of Estes's motors have "remained essentially unchanged for over two decades."
Centuri asked for unspecified damages from Toy Biz for patent infringement and contract interference and $500,000 in damages from New England Paper to cover the higher costs of motor tubes made by other manufacturers.
The Denver case was dismissed by the court and closed on February 17, 1998.
The case against New England Paper Company was settled and closed on June 4, 1998. Judge Edward W. Nottingham granted a motion to dismiss "with prejudice." The parties were to bear their own costs and attorney fees.
Toy Biz filed a related case against Centuri in New York court claiming that Centuri committed illegal acts to eliminate Toy Biz as a competitor in the model rocket market. The New York case was filed on filed August 29, 1997, and dismissed as settled on August 7, 1998. The details of the settlement are confidential.