Design Patents Meet The Fashion World: Lululemon Suing Calvin Klein

from the i-thought-yoga-was-calming dept

One of the reasons some people in the fashion industry have for desiring copyright on clothing designs is to stop knockoffs from entering the market and “harming” the original designer. We have pointed out before that this is a pointless request as the fashion industry is hugely successful despite the lack of copyright and presence of cheap knockoffs. However, it seems that some companies have decided to go another route to take out cheap competition: design patents.

karm sends word that yoga pants maker Lululemon has decided that it can’t compete with cheaper alternatives and so will sue the competition.

“This is a low barrier-to-entry industry. Lululemon, their success, has drawn new competitors throughout the mall,” said independent retail analyst Brian Sozzi. “The valuation is so high. It’s tough to warm up to a stock when you see so many new competitors.”

In the suit filed in federal court in Delaware on August 13, Lululemon accused PVH Corp’s Calvin Klein brand and manufacturer G-III Apparel Group Ltd of infringing three patents on the design of its yoga pants. Design patents protect the appearance of goods, in contrast to more common utility patents, which focus on how things work.

If that is not crazy enough, this same company has been able to compete with other big players without going to trial.

The company says it competes with athletic apparel heavyweights such as Nike Inc and Under Armour Inc by offering better quality, and it maintains its enviable margins by taking charge of every stage of the process – from design, to production, to sale.

If Lululemon can compete with those two companies by offering better quality to its customers, why is it not able to do so with Calvin Klein? Well, it makes the claim that some of these new products match their own quality but are far cheaper. Gee. I wonder if maybe there was something other than litigate that Lululemon could be doing that could work to its advantage. Like maybe competing on price. If quality is no longer a defining feature, then price is another good place to compete.

It really is sad when we see a company which feels threatened by the competition resorting to lawsuits rather than competing in the market. We have already seen how ridiculous such lawsuits can get with Apple and Samsung. But I guess that since that came out in favor of design patents, at least for now, we can probably expect to see many more of these kinds of lawsuits in the future.

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Companies: calvin klein, lululemon

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Comments on “Design Patents Meet The Fashion World: Lululemon Suing Calvin Klein”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I am seriously fed up with patents.

Patents are supposed to cover things like the transistor, the internal combustion engine or pennicilum. Actual innovation, in the scientific sense. Things that will impact the world for decades. Things that shape and change our lives.

Instead, we are allowing people to patent designs? Really? These things will be obsolete even before the patent expires, and yet, we give them a special monopoly privilege (which will, invariably, be abused) just because the know how to file a document with the patent office?

Fuck patents. The whole system is broken.

lfroen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem with this statement, is that science don’t do “innovation”. And of cause, science’s result is not patentable.

Those “design patents” actually make sense same way as trademark make sense – to avoid (possible confusion). So, it is perfectly OK to have “patent” for distinctive design (no, rectangle w/ rounded corners doesn’t count).
Question of abuse is unrelated here – corruption always happens (see mortgage crisis for another example).

So, fight bribery and corruption wherever it happen, vote for honest politicians (are they exists?), start political movement and so on.

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re: Re:

Honest politicians should be thought of as uninfected politicians. If they are in the majority, they have a chance to keep out and defend against infected(corrupt) politicians.

As is the case with the US, the infected are in majority. So while it is possible to remain uninfected, that chance diminishes with time, and without a significant inrush of uninfected, there is no chance to shift to an uninfected majority.

Politicians are in it for a career before they are in it for the right thing to do. So in cases of right-thing-to-do vs career, career wins.

Lord Binky says:

Why bother suing? Instead slap your logo on the design even more blatently and give the new designs to yoga instructors. It’ll be cheaper and keep your whole status symbol bit about being priced high.

They seem more upset that an acceptable brand’s logo can be on the same type style clothing and provide a more well known status symbol to general consumers.

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