In the last few years, yoga pants have moved beyond the studio and into the streets, becoming a ubiquitous fashion staple for women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and demographics. But whether you got yours from Old Navy or some line of clothing by Kim Kardashian, we all know that there is one yoga pant maker to rule them all: Lululemon. But just to make sure everyone really knows who makes the OG Spandex fold-over top butt-huggers, Lululemon is getting litigious. They’re suing Calvin Klein over an alleged infringement of the company’s yoga pant patent.
According to the intrepid reporters at Fashionista, Lululemon owns three separate yoga pant patents that cover their “Astro Pants” style of bottoms, which has a distinctive criss-crossed waistband and a camel-toe-proof gusset. From their article:
…One on the actual waistband itself, the other two for two specific styles of the pant. A design patent is different from your typical patent, otherwise known as a “utility” patent, in that it covers “ornamental” design rather than functional design.
Calvin Klein’s Performance Knee Length Running Tight, which has been removed from the site but can still be found online, does seem to boast a very similar look and style. And the company was definitely undercutting the price–these leggings were about $40, according to Jezebel. Lululemon’s are close to $100.
But targeting a lower socio-economic yogic demographic isn’t the only reason why a company like Lululemon would be unhappy with someone copying their designs. That level of infringement also depletes the company’s influence–think of how many knock-off Louis Vuitton bags you’ve seen and assumed were fake. So it makes sense of them to make the bold move of a lawsuit to protect their look. Particularly with an item of clothing that’s so central to Lululemon’s overall profile.
And, says Fashionista, the decision to target Calvin Klein is also a smart move. Instead of calling out a less influential company or label, Lululemon is going after a major name. In doing so, they’re sending a pretty clear message, both to CK and any other potential infringers: We own yoga pants, and we’re not afraid to sue.
Calvin Klein has already removed the product in question, and indications point to the fact that Lululemon will probably settle with the company. Which means this stretchy scuffle may end quickly and quietly–but it’s also definitely a warning to clothing designers who may like someone’s original idea a little too much. The U.S. may have lax design patent laws, but when you’ve got as much clout as Lululemon, you don’t have to take it in Savasana.