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3M Slaps Irvine Optics Firm With $30-Million Suit

January 05, 1990|JONATHAN WEBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Laser Precision Corp., a manufacturer of optical test equipment, has been hit with a $30-million lawsuit by the giant Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets by hiring a former employee of 3M's 3M/Photodyne unit.

In a suit filed on Dec. 28 in U.S. District Court in New York, 3M asked for an injunction to prevent Laser Precision from receiving or using any information from former 3M/Photodyne employee Peter N. Milstead, according to a 3M spokeswoman.

3M is also asking for $30 million in punitive damages and unspecified actual damages.

Laser Precision's radiation measurement and fiber optics division, which competes directly with 3M/Photodyne, is located in Utica, N.Y. Neither company would comment on what technology was at issue in the suit.

Laser Precision's stock fell 5/8 of a point to $3.75, or 14.4%, in New York Stock Exchange trading today, the worst performance for any public company based in Orange County.

In a statement issued Thursday, Laser Precision said 3M had sued for "interference with the employment contract of a former Photodyne/3M employee and misappropriation of trade secrets."

David M. Goodman, chairman and chief executive officer of Laser Precision, said in the statement that the company "believes it has meritorious defenses to the action and plans to defend the suit vigorously."

A Laser Precision spokesman declined any further comment on the case.

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