WASHINGTON — Guess Inc. is the latest in a long string of companies that has agreed to settle a denim-technology patent infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission and enter into a licensing agreement with the complainant, RevoLaze LLC and Technolines LLC, according to a new motion filed with the ITC.
The Los Angeles-based sportswear and jeanswear company joins several other defendants that have agreed to settle the case, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc.; VF Corp.; Levi Strauss & Co.; Buckle Inc.; Lucky Brand Jeans; Diesel SpA; Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc.; BBC Apparel, and Gotham Licensing Group doing business under the Blank NYC brand, and Fashion Box SpA, an Italian denim manufacturer.
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.
The ITC in October initiated an investigation of the complaint, which specifically 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.
Among the retailers remaining in the case are Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Hennes & Mauritz.
The motion for termination with Guess 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.