lululemon, the popular designer of yoga clothing has filed a Complaint in federal court in Delaware against Calvin Klein alleging that Calvin Klein is selling pants that infringe three design patents owned by lululemon. The design patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are for pants with a waistband featuring overlapping panels of fabric.
According to the Complaint, the patented designs are embodied in products sold by lululemon under the brand name “Astro Pant.”
The lawsuit represents a novel approach for the protection of apparel as the law currently affords limited protection to the fashion and apparel industry, which is known for copycats and knockoffs. Design patents, which protect the ornamental design of a product, are uncommon in the fashion and apparel industry. Moreover, trademarks, which typically protect names and logos, can also protect certain distinctive features of products, such as lacquered red outsole of a shoe, which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed in a lawsuit between French designers Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent. Lastly, copyrights will protect original works of authorship, but not works that are predominantly functional, such as pants and shirts. Indeed, Congress has yet to pass various bills that would grant greater copyright protection to clothing designs and make it easier for designers and clothing companies to sue each other for infringement.
For a copy of the lululemon Complaint, click here.