More and more often, we hear of plagiarized designs in the fashion industry in the news. In a recent case, Lululemon is suing Under Armour for stealing their design and for “irreparable damage.” The Fashion Network reports that Lululemon has claimed patent infringement by Under Armour on three of their bras.
Images are taken from shop.lululemon.com and underarmour.com
The copied design here is a sports bra with a particular pair of crossover straps. The bra on the left is known as the Energy Bra at Lululemon and sells for $52. Under Armour’s Eclipse Low Impact Bra on the right is sold for $40. As shown, Under Armour’s bra straps do indeed resemble the proportions and pattern of Lululemon’s straps.
Lululemon and Under Armour are fierce competitors in the athletic wear market. Thus it is important for Lululemon to take a stance against any products that could take away revenue from their own original inventory.
Intellectual property and copyright have been an issue in the industry since the industry began. Unfortunately, it is a tricky subject, since usually the situation usually involves large corporate brands taking designs from smaller, independent brands or even worse, students leaving the designer who has been copied with little to no chance of successfully suing or getting some kind of payback.
Since the rise of social media, designers have been able to spread awareness of this issue, highlighting yet another morally questionable aspect of the industry. With exposure and momentum, the internet can pressure large corporate and luxury brands to stop this behavior, or risk dropping sales and disgracing their reputation. In this case, it is a battle between two large athletic brands. CNBC reports that Under Armour has been dropping in sales in the last year.
Currently, there are no firm laws protecting brands and their intellectual property. However, with more awareness and conversation, this could change soon in the future.