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Bold Move! Lululemon Sues Under Armour for Trade Dress & Patent Design Infringement

August 1, 2017

The Continuing Rise of Athleisure

Athleisure is defined as casual, comfortable clothing designed to be suitable both for exercise and everyday wear. It has become so popular that even the dictionary of Merriam-Webster has added the word to their “Words We’re Watching” list. The athleisure trend includes, but is not limited to, yoga pants, sweat pants, hoodies, tanks, and sports bras. Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal states that trend “promises a whole day’s wear from a single outfit, taking women from spin class to the coffee shop to the office and then out for a cocktail at happy hour.”

The market for athleisure has been on an upward trend for quite some time, and especially popular are the rise of the sports bra. Women want to be comfortable all day long and seek the support and hug of a stretchy, yet elegant, sports bra. No longer are the days where women purchase bulky sports bras with the knowledge that no one will see them other than them. Now the elaborate peek-a-boo of a host of strappy bras is the thing to see. Sports intimate wear alone brought in $23 billion in 2014 and is estimated to bring in $21 billion in 2019. Victoria Secret’s parent company dropped 25% in its third quarter in 2016 and thereafter began switching a good portion of their focus onto sportswear. Lululemon, the Vancouver-based athleisure company, had a 20% spike in sports bra revenue the very same year.

Lululemon Sues Under Armour Inc.

Lululemon filed a lawsuit in Delaware federal court in the beginning of July 2017. They allege that Under Armour Inc. has infringed on Lululemon’s patent and trade dress rights that it has held since 2014. The complaint specifically names Under Armour’s Eclipse Low Impact, Shape Low Impact, On the Move, and Printed Strappy bras as having Lululemon’s signature cross and interweave straps. Lululemon typically sell their Energy bra for $52, while Under Armour sells its infringing bras for $40. They received U.S. patents in 2014 and 2016 (D709,668 and D759,942) and has been continuously using the design for its Energy Bra since 2011.

Lululemon states that “[t]he design of defendant’s infringing products so resembles the trade dress in appearance and overall commercial impression that the infringing products are likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception as to the source or origin of defendant’s infringing products.” They further state that the confusion will damages their goodwill and reputation.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

This is not the first time the Vancouver-based company has aggressively protected their intellectual property rights. In 2012, Lululemon brought suit against Calvin Klein for the infringement of one of their yoga pants designs. The suit did not go to trial and the companies reached a confidential settlement. The NPD Group, Inc. is a market research company that had conducted a study in 2015 that showed 41% of millennials have worn a sports bra in the last seven days, as compared to 21.5% of non-millennials. Whether for an actual workout or simply a lifestyle preference, there is no denying that athleisure will continue to dominate the fashion scene. It is more comfortable and practical than the usual trends, and it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to be in workout wear throughout the day.

Author: Marissa Lim, Intern

Bold IP stands ready to meet your intellectual property patent prosecution and litigation needs. Let us help you and your invention become the next big fashion designer! Our nationwide team of attorneys stand ready to help you through Patent Litigation Defense, Plantiff-Side Litigation, and Prosecution!


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