After being granted three design patents for their "Astro" pants (one in 2011 and two this year), Lululemon Athletica Inc. filed last month a lawsuit against Calvin Klein Inc. for infringing their patented design. 

Lululemon's patented Astro waistband

Patents are not main mechanism used to protect fashion because it is usually a lengthy and costly process, with often an uncertain result.  The patent applicant must demonstrate that the design is novel and nonobvious. That means it must be unique and different enough from another design to make it past the nonobvious criteria, which is a often a challenge when it comes to clothing, given the cyclic nature of fashion. 

Lululemon's Astro pants

Lululemon succesfully passed the novelty and nonobvious test and was granted three design patents. One for their "Astro" waistband featuring overlapping panels of fabric and two for specific styles of the pants.

Calvin Klein's version

The battle in court will be in one side Lululemon having to demonstrate that Calvin Klein's products look like their patented pants and on the other side, Calvin Klein trying to argue "prior art" with evidence that others made similar products before Lululemon.

For now, all we know is that Calvin Klein has already removed from its website the disputed pants and regardless of the outcome, the lawsuit is at least big publicity for Lululemon. 

Download Lululemon's patents here.

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