WASHINGTON — An administrative law judge for the U.S. International Trade Commission this week granted a motion from RevoLaze LLC and Technolines LLC to terminate a denim-technology patent infringement case against the two remaining defendants, including Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz.
The complainants withdrew the claims and case against H&M after failing to reach a settlement agreement or licensing deal with the retailer. RevoLaze settled with the other remaining defendant, Eroglu Giyim Tic AS, a Turkish manufacturer, and entered into a licensing agreement, according to ITC filings.
“The ruling was the logical ending to a highly successful patent enforcement campaign where either the denim brand or their manufacturer agreed to a license with RevoLaze,” the company said. “For RevoLaze, a license agreement simply establishes the beginning of what we hope will lead to strong partnerships in the future. Several of our licensees have not only visited RevoLaze headquarters, but are currently collaborating with RevoLaze to maximize their production output and significantly improve designs to replicate the hand-sanded look on any laser through our proprietary Photoshop plug-in software.”
H&M was the last major retailer in the case, which was originally filed against 17 retailers and brands, including: Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Guess Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc., VF Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and Lucky Brand Jeans. All of those companies settled the case with RevoLaze and entered into licensing agreements over the past several months.
A spokeswoman for H&M said in an e-mail Thursday that the company is “pleased with the outcome” of the case and “that H&M’s distressed denim does not infringe.”
“H&M, as an owner of valuable intellectual property itself, respects the intellectual property rights of others, and will not be pressured to settle,” she added.
In ITC filings prior to RevoLaze’s withdrawal of the case against H&M, the retailer was fighting to have it go to litigation.
“As an original respondent, H&M has participated in this investigation for over a year,” the company said in an ITC filing. “As an owner of valuable intellectual property, H&M takes accusations of infringement seriously and is committed to defending against unmeritorious claims. It does not manufacture any of the products it sells nor practice any of the processes covered by the patent-in-suit, and thus wishes to clear its name.”
RevoLaze did not respond to a request seeking comment on the termination of the case. The 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 2014, 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 judge’s initial determination will stand unless a party files a petition for review or the full commission orders its own review of it.