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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / JACK SEARLES

2 Medical Test-Kit Firms Settle Costly Lawsuits

January 09, 1996|JACK SEARLES

Two Ventura County producers of medical test kits have settled a pair of costly lawsuits involving trade secrets.

Under the settlement, Biopool International Inc., based in Ventura, will pay $100,000 to Medical Analysis Systems Inc., which has its headquarters in Camarillo. Biopool also agreed to pay royalties to Medical Analysis for the right to manufacture and sell certain drug-abuse control products.

Biopool withdrew a suit it had filed against Medical Analysis last January, claiming libel, slander and unfair competition.

In addition to the settlement, the yearlong legal skirmishing took its toll on Biopool's bottom line.

The company's chairman and chief executive, Michael D. Bick, blamed expenses related to the suits for a loss suffered in last year's third quarter. He also warned that the litigation might cause flat profits in the final three months of 1995.

The battle began in November 1994, when Medical Analysis filed an action claiming that Biopool had misappropriated Medical Analysis' "secret processes and formulas" for producing liquid controls and reagents.

The action, filed in Ventura County Superior Court, sought to stop Biopool and a subsidiary, Medical Diagnostic Technologies Inc., from marketing products using Medical Analysis' technology. Medical Analysis also sought unspecified punitive damages.

Under terms of the settlement, Biopool also agreed not to sell two unspecified products that have never reached the market.

Bick said the products on which Biopool will pay a royalty represented less than 2% of the company's 1995 revenues, "so any future impact is also considered negligible."

Biopool said its primary insurance carrier has agreed to dismiss a claim against Biopool and will reimburse the company for 66% of its legal defense costs.

"We will continue to have some additional legal expenses in the fourth quarter, which we currently estimate will bring our total out-of-pocket costs . . . to approximately $350,000," Bick said.

Biopool blamed its legal costs for a loss of $2,000 on sales of $1.7 million in the three months ended last Sept. 30. In the same period a year earlier, the company had a profit of $159,000, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $1.4 million.

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