A U.S. District Court jury decided Monday that model train-maker Lionel LLC and others should pay $40.8 million to rival Mike's Train House Inc. for misappropriating its designs.
Mike's Train House of Columbia, Md., sued Michigan-based Lionel in 2000, saying that Lionel sold trains made from designs stolen from a South Korean manufacturer hired by Mike's Train House.
The jury found that Lionel, along with its supplier Korea Brass Co. Ltd. and an individual, Yoo Chan Yang, earned millions of dollars by misusing designs that belonged to Mike's Train House.
Mike's Train House was founded in 1980 by Mike Wolf, who started the business assembling trains in the basement of his parents' Maryland home.
"We believe in pursuing our legal rights and felt that a court challenge was the right thing to do," Wolf said in a statement.
Messages seeking comment were left Monday with Lionel, which is based in Chesterfield Township, a Detroit suburb.
According to the lawsuit, an investigation in 1999 by South Korean authorities found that designs belonging to Samhongsa Co. Inc., which subcontracts for Wolf, had been stolen by a competitor, Korea Brass. Three former Samhongsa employees and one Korea Brass employee were charged with stealing trade secrets. All four pleaded guilty in 2000, the lawsuit said.