Hip yoga brand Lululemon sues Calvin Klein over claims that patented pants were copied

That's not very zen! Hip yoga brand Lululemon sues Calvin Klein over claims that patented pants were copied

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UPDATED:

16:19 GMT, 24 August 2012

Lululemon Athletica Inc, the hip Canadian chain that made yoga apparel fashionable, has filed a lawsuit over accusations that Calvin Klein's 'Performance' pants infringe
patents on its 'Astro Pant'.

In the suit filed in federal court in Delaware on August 13, Lululemon
claims PVH Corp's Calvin Klein brand and manufacturer G-III
Apparel Group Ltd have infringed three patents on the design of
its yoga pants.

Targeting activewear brands that seek to undercut its premium prices, two of the styles singled out by Lululemon the lawsuit were recently
listed online at $39.99 and $60.00 before discounts, compared with $98
for the Astro.

Lululemon

Calvin Klein

Lawsuit: Lululemon says Calvin Klein's 'Performance' pants (right) infringe patents on its 'Astro Pant' (left)

According to the Fordham Fashion Law Institute's Susan Scafidione, one patent applies to the Astro pant waistband, while the others apply to two specific
styles of the pant.

She told Fashionista.com: 'Its uniqueness and recognition in the public absolutely gives the
appearance to the customer that they are unique and shores up their
intellectual property portfolio.'

It is also significant that Lululemon targeted a major global name, Ms Scafidi continued.

'They chose a company whose brand
name we all recognize,' she said. 'Calvin Klein as a named party in a
lawsuit is very interesting because you have two big names.'

Jeremy de Beer, an intellectual property expert and law professor at the University of Ottawa, added: 'What Lululemon is doing here is staking its turf.'

Lululemon

Style signature: One of the design features cited by Lululemon applies to the waistband of its Astro pant

In court, Lululemon will have to show that its rival's products look
like the patented pants. The other side can strike back with 'prior art'
– evidence that others made similar products before Lululemon.

The lawsuit filed by Lululemon Athletica Inc (LLL.TO), comes as investors indicate growing unease over the company's future.

Shares have fallen nearly 17per cent in the last three months, although they are still up 26per cent year-to-date.

Whether the lawsuit, filed in a U.S. court, will shore up the company's position remains to be seen.

Design patents protect the appearance of goods, in contrast to more common utility patents, which focus on how things work.

Lululemon

Making yoga wear cool: Founded in 1998, Lululemon took Canada and then the United States by storm with costly, colorful, fashionable workout gear targeted at professional young women

Alexander
Poltorak, chief executive of General Patent Corporation explained: 'It's kind of difficult in clothing to
design something which is completely new, because, you know, the history
of clothing design goes for several thousand years.'

Adrian Pruetz, a partner
at U.S. law firm Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro added that apparel is 'difficult to protect'.

She said: 'It's very hard to come up with something that's new and that hasn't just been part of the clothing vernacular.'

Founded in
1998, Lululemon took Canada and then the United States by storm with
costly, colorful, fashionable workout gear targeted at professional
young women. Its shares are up seven-fold since its 2007 initial public
offering, and now trade at 46 times earnings.