Balenciaga

Balenciaga has ended a running lawsuit accusing it of copying a patented design for its popular studded thong sandal.

The Kering-owned luxury house late last week told a New York federal court that it had reached a dismissal arrangement with JPT Group LLC, the owner of Bernardo, which claimed its patented stud sandal design was being ripped off.

That agreement puts an official end to the infringement suit, a little over one year since JPT first accused Balenciaga of copying its design.

A representative of Kering declined to comment. JPT could not be reached for comment.

Although Balenciaga and JPT told the court in April that it had reached an undisclosed settlement of the case, the companies were apparently unable to hammer out the finer points of the agreement, and postponed dismissal several times, according to court records.

When JPT sued Balenciaga in June 2016, it accused the brand of looking to Bernardo’s “innovative” and patented designs “rather than undertaking its own independent development,” according to the complaint.

Bernardo is sold through department stores and online and the brand says its founding designer, Bernard Rudofsky, is credited with the invention of modern-day women’s sandals in the early Forties. The shoes generally sell for between $60 and $175, but certain styles sell for more than $350.

The specific Bernardo shoe at issue is a leather t-strap flat sandal with added hardware studs along the leather straps. Balenciaga’s popular stud sandal, which retails for $495, can be described in the same way.

Bernardo’s patented design (left) compared to Balenciaga’s stud sandal in an image from court documents. 

Balenciaga last year denied JPT’s infringement accusations in their entirety and argued that the two asserted patents should be deemed invalid given a purported lack of originality. The brand also argued that JPT was essentially trying to restrain competition in the sandal market by “attempting to expand the scope of its protected design(s) to encompass any and all T-strap sandals with incorporated studded detail.”

Beyond that, Balenciaga pointed out that its “Balenciaga studs” are its own trademarked designs and said those protections “predate” JPT’s asserted patents, according to court records.

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