Lest the reader think that IP law is boring and stodgy, we recount the recent Battle Of The Bras. (Plew v. Limited Brands Inc. et al.)
Katerina Plew is the inventor of a bra with multiple strap configurations. (For legal scholars who wish to really reach into this subject, see U.S.P.N. 6,733,362). Limited Brands is a company known to all by its nom de cleavage, Victoria’s Secret.
After making her uplifting invention, Plew wrote to Victoria’s Secret, disclosing her idea and arranging a meeting. The meeting was later cancelled by Victoria’s Secret. Shortly thereafter, Victoria’s Secret introduced its Very Sexy 100-Way Brassiere. Plew sued, alleging infringement of her patent.
Victoria’s Secret, truly believing in separation, filed TWO summary judgment motions, one seeking a decision that the subject patent was not infringed, and the other seeking a decision that it was invalid. The judge denied both motions, on the grounds that they presented material questions of fact and, hence, the issues were not amenable to summary disposition. Therefore, the case will go to trial, where the product demonstrations should be quite revealing. We hope to report further on this exciting case.
Before closing, we would note that Victoria’s Secret, like many large corporations, has an established procedure for dealing with product ideas submitted by outsiders. Under this procedure, all such submissions are passed, unopened, directly to patent counsel. According to Plew’s attorney, the Victoria’s Secret patent counsel denies having received Plew’s disclosure and has no record of it in her files. Hmmm!