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‘Bra technology’ sees H&M lose multi-million pound patent dispute

High Court finds patent infringement by clothing retailer in 12 different garments

25 November 2015

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Global retail giant H&M has lost a multi-million pound, multi-jurisdictional patent dispute against a UK manufacturer after infringing its 'coveted bra technology'.

The High Court judgment sees Stretchline Holding's entitled to an injunction, damages, costs, and other remedies, subject to any successful appeal.

The company's head of intellectual property (IP), Robert Glenn, said: 'This is an important day for Stretchline as we are, and always have been, extremely proud of our innovative technologies. It's important to our customers that we protect our IP rights and that is all we have sought to do here.'

The dispute concerned Stretchline's patented bra technology. In 2003 the Long Eaton-based manufacturer bought local firm Price Shepherd and all of its IP, including the brand Fortitube and its patents which prevent the underwire in a bra perforating its wire casing.

In 2011 it was discovered that H&M were selling bras which incorporated Fortitube technology without a licence from Stretchline. Proceedings were issued in the UK and the US and the case was settled in 2011. However, the following year Stretchline again found infringing garments being sold.

Lawyers for Stretchline pursued two routes of argument; repudiation and breach of contract.

Nick McDonald, a partner at Nottingham's Nelsons Solicitors which represented Stretchline commented: 'The court has ruled that each of the 12 different garments it cited as infringing in its claim do indeed infringe its patent - and therefore the settlement agreement has been breached by H&M.'

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal | @JvdLD

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