WASHINGTON — VF Corp. is the latest apparel company to settle a denim technology patent infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission and has also agreed to enter into a licensing agreement with the complainant, RevoLaze LLC and Technolines LLC, according to a new motion filed with the ITC.
VF follows five other defendants that have settled the case — Levi Strauss & Co.; Eddie Bauer LLC; BBC Apparel and Gotham Licensing Group, which do business under the Blank NYC brand; Fashion Box SpA, an Italian denim manufacturer and maker of the Replay brand, and DL1961.
“This now provides our companies an opportunity to work together on cost, quality, throughput and environmental advantages with our high-speed laser technology,” said Darryl Costin, chief executive officer of RevoLaze, who said he has spent the past 20 years researching and developing proprietary laser-scribing technology in the denim industry. “Our goal at RevoLaze has always been to help the denim industry grow. We want to continue to introduce world-class technology that conserves the environment, while increasing productivity.”
VF did not respond to requests for comment.
The ITC complaint targeted 17 companies, asserting infringement on six patents involving laser-abraded denim technology. Among the other major brands and retailers named in the complaint are Guess Inc., Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co., American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Hennes & Mauritz.
The ITC said in October that it would initiate an investigation into the complaint filed by 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. The company claims 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. Technolines is a majority partner in RevoLaze.
Several of the major companies named in the complaint accused RevoLaze and Technolines in early responses filed in the case of deception and claimed the six patents at the heart of the laser-abraded denim technology case are invalid and unenforceable. The motion for termination with VF will go before an administrative law judge overseeing the ITC case for review and a ruling. If the judge grants the motion, it will be subject to a review or possible modification by the commission.