MANHATTAN (CN) – With a professor’s input on the science of shapewear, the makers of Yummy Tummy can advance claims that Spanx squeezed their intellectual property, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Times Three Clothier, the company behind the Yummy Tummy brand, contends that two of Spanx’s camisoles – “The Top This Tank Style 1847” and “The Top This Cami Style 1846” – infringe upon their patent.
Though Yummy Tummy’s makers originally claimed that the allegedly infringing three-part garments compressed at the bottom section, their revised complaint reflects having learned that the product actually flattened in the middle.
To support their claims, Yummy Tummy’s lawyers solicited the expertise of Robert Beaulieu, an assistant professor of textile technology/chemistry at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote detailed the professor’s findings regarding the “accused products” in a Wednesday opinion that sends the case on for discovery.
“Beaulieu studied the accused products visually and physically,” the eight-page opinion states. “He also sent samples from the accused products’ three sections to Vartest Laboratories, Inc. for stretch and recovery testing. According to Beaulieu, the results from those tests confirm that the middle section is the most compressive.”
The professor’s “physical, visual examination of the fabric used” in the upper and middle sections found that they contain “a substantially non-compressive shaper material that is configured by its construction, threads, knit and/or pattern used,” according to the opinion.
Cote found that the “test results Beaulieu reports that create a sufficient inference of infringement to permit discovery to proceed.”
Spanx can “challenge the accuracy of Times Three’s infringement contentions” at the summary-judgment phase, or try to impute the reliability of its experts at the proper time, the judge added.
Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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