Lululemon sues Under Armour for patent infringement over sports bras

Lululemon has sued Under Armour for patent and trade dress infringement for three sports bras Under Armour is currently selling.

Lululemon, left; Under Armour, right

The lawsuit was filed in Delaware federal court last week. In it, Lululemon claims Baltimore-based Under Armour is infringing on patents and trade dress rights that the Canadian company has held since 2014.

Lululemon specifically claims the interweaving straps on the Eclipse Low Impact bra which is also sold as the Shape Low Impact are a copy of its Energy bra. Lululemon also is suing for patent infringement for Under Armour's On the Move and the Printed Strappy bras.

While Lululemon has made seasonal updates to its Energy bra, the crisscrossed straps for the light support bra are supposedly recognizable as a Lululemon bra to frequently purchasing consumers in the sports bra market. Lululemon sells its model for $52. Under Armour's Eclipse sells for $40.

The lawsuit is representative of how heated the sports bra market is: brands like Nike, Under Armour and Lululemon are actively competing for female consumers. Each brand has a sports bra initiative. Historically, Lululemon was the first of the active brands to use modern marketing to speak to women about bras.

The competition arose as athleisure moved from a trend to a lifestyle preference. Money Magazine reported that the third quarter of year-on-year sales in 2016 showed Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands' sales drop 25%. Meanwhile, Lululemon reported 20% growth over the previous year for that same period.

NPD conducted a study in 2015 that showed 41% of millennials claimed to have worn a sports bra in the past seven days, compared to half that amount for non-millennials. Sports bras are integral products to any active brand's line. Accordingly, Lululemon must defend its intellectual property to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Under Armour has not yet responded to the lawsuit that was filed on Friday.


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