(Via Lululemon.com, CalvinKlein.com) L-R: Lululemon's Astro pants, Calvin Klein's Performance pants
So, Lululemon—yogapant mecca of the Western World—and Calvin Klein are locked in an epic legal battle... over a waistband.
Last week Lululemon filed a patent lawsuit against PVH Corporation and Calvin Klein alleging that Calvin Klein copied Lululemon's signature waistband—see the Astro pants, above left, which retail at Lululemon for $98, and compare them to Calvin Klein's Performance knee-length running tights, right, which sell for $39.99 at CalvinKlein.com.
The Vancouver Sun talked to Fordham Law's Susan Scafidi, who heads up the school's Fashion Law Institute. Scafidi pointed out some interesting facets of the lawsuit—namely that it was filed in Delaware, which has been friendlier to patent infringement suits in the past, and that Lululemon hasn't been above legal-moves-as-PR in the past.
Scafidi told the Sun:
For Lululemon to have gone to the trouble of obtaining not one but three patents on the v-shaped waistband in question — one patent limited to the waistband itself, and the other two showing different styles of yoga pants incorporating that waistband — the company must feel strongly about its ownership of the design. Beyond that particular intellectual property asset, Lululemon also has an interest in maintaining the uniqueness and innovative spirit of its brand in the eyes of devoted fans and potential investors. A lawsuit against a well-known brand like Calvin Klein is a PR statement, not unlike the strategy of combating counterfeits by publicizing the differences between real and fake garments that Lululemon has employed in the past. In other words, Lululemon has a history of turning actual or alleged copying into PR lemonade.That said, we checked out the disputed waistbands—and hm, sure, they sort of look alike. What do you think? Do you think Lululemon has a case? Do you think Calvin Klein knocked off the design? Tell us in the comments!