Kiwi company wins major court battle over amphibious boats

A kiwi company who makes amphibious boats has won a major court case against a former employee who stole their design.

The High Court has ruled SeaLegs' design was copied with the help of former staff - and an injunction means its rival can no longer make the same boats here.

The boats can drive on land, meaning when you get to the water's edge you can get in without getting your feet wet.

The High Court ruled on Friday that competing company Orion copied SeaLegs' design and it can no longer make or sell its amphibious system in New Zealand.

Inventor Maurice Bryham said: "Everyone's saying great result and good we can just get on with it now."

The ruling ends Sealegs' two year legal battle, and staff can celebrate tonight knowing their jobs are safe.  

Sealegs barrister Brian Henry said: "This is about jobs because a competitor who hasn't had to do the capital development can undercut on price, and that's jobs gone."

What made it worse was the ideas were taken by two people staff here know well - they were colleagues.

"They secret squirelled it... They were building boats for sealegs at the same time hiding the fact they were building this competitor," Mr Henry said.

Orion wasn't ready to comment today.

In court, Orion argued this design was not unique. But the High Court ruled its product had the exact same combination of features - and they'd copied it.

SeaLegs says its spent more than a million dollars on the case, and they are likely to get some of it back once damages are decided.

But more than anything, they're happy to get back to designing, stress free.