WASHINGTON — Gap Inc. has agreed to settle a denim-technology patent infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission and enter into a patent licensing agreement with the complainant, Revolaze LLC and Technolines LLC, according to a new motion filed with the ITC.
The retailer was one of a few remaining companies in the case and joins 13 of 17 defendants that have agreed to settle, including most recently Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Guess Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., as well as VF Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and Lucky Brand Jeans.
Revolaze, a Westlake, Ohio-based laser-technology firm that claims to hold 29 worldwide patents for laser-inscribing methods that apply graphics and patterns on a variety of materials, filed a complaint with the ITC in August 2014 accusing 17 denim brands and retailers of patent infringement on certain laser-abraded denim garments, seeking a ban on those imported products. Technolines is a majority partner in Revolaze.
In addition to the ITC complaint, Revolaze filed separate patent infringement lawsuits in U.S. District Court against each of the named brands and retailers. When companies settle ITC cases, the accompanying lawsuits are also typically dismissed.
In October, the ITC initiated an investigation of the complaint, which asserted infringement on six patents involving laser-abraded denim technology owned by Revolaze. The company claimed a significant portion of its intellectual property uses the laser-inscribing technology for fabrics such as denim. Used in distressed-denim jeans, the technology is an alternative to controversial sandblasting and costly washing processes.
The only other retailer remaining in the case is Hennes & Mauritz.
The motion for termination with Gap will go before an administrative law judge overseeing the ITC case for review and a ruling. If the judge grants the motion for termination of the case by settlement, it will be subject to a review or possible modification by the commission.