WASHINGTON — Several of the major companies involved in a U.S. International Trade Commission patent infringement case are accusing the complainants of deception and claiming the six patents at the heart of the laser-abraded denim technology case are invalid and unenforceable.
This story first appeared in the October 17, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In new filings at the ITC, companies including Gap Inc., VF Corp., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. outlined their defense against an ITC complaint filed by RevoLaze LLC and Technolines LLC that accused 17 U.S. and European firms of violating six of their denim technology patents under a section of U.S. trade law.
The ITC said last month it would initiate an investigation on the complaint filed by RevoLaze, a Westlake, Ohio-based laser-technology firm, which is requesting the commission impose what is known as a “general exclusion order” that would direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop all of the allegedly infringing denim imports from the 17 companies from entering the U.S. RevoLaze also seeks a limited-exclusion order or cease-and-desist orders from importing the products into the country.
But the brands and retailers came out swinging hard in several responses filed with the ITC this week.
The other companies cited in the complaint include Levi Strauss & Co., Guess Inc., Diesel SpA of Italy, Eddie Bauer LLC, Hennes & Mauritz AB, Roberto Cavalli, The Buckle Inc., Koos Manufacturing Inc., Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc., BBC Apparel Group LLC, Gotham Licensing Corp. and Fashion Box Group SpA.
Several of the firms submitted similar responses to the ITC, accusing Darryl Costin, chief executive officer of RevoLaze, of falsely claiming sole rights to the patents and misrepresenting the contributions of the alleged true sole inventor, Larisa Sheveleva. In its ITC filing, Gap charged Costin and his attorney, Scott Harris, of engaging in a “prolonged scheme to deceive the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] and deprive Dr. Sheveleva of her rights in the asserted patents.”
Gap claimed that Costin and Harris worked together to “deprive” Sheveleva of her patent rights by “misrepresenting her contributions to the claimed inventions and deceiving the USPTO into believing that Mr. Costin is the sole inventor.”
A&F made similar charges in its filing and said: “TechnoLines’ hands are so soiled by the deceptive conduct of its officer and attorney as to render all six asserted patents unenforceable.”
The companies also denied any infringement of the asserted patents, claimed all of the patents are invalid for failing to meet the requirements, and charged that RevoLaze and Technolines have not “adequately” established the existence of a domestic industry for the patented technologies.
RevoLaze claims to hold 29 worldwide patents for laser-inscribing methods that apply graphics and patterns on a variety of materials. The company claims that a significant portion of its intellectual property uses the laser-scribing technology for fabrics such as denim. Used in distressed denim jeans, the technology is an alternative to controversial sandblasting and costly washing processes.
RevoLaze said in an e-mail, “These are typical responses of patent infringers to a strong showing of patent infringement. We look forward to the enforcement of our patents.”