H&M found in breach of Stretchline patent for a second time

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We have written previously about the patent dispute between the retailer, H&M, and Stretchline, the proprietor of a patent concerning fabric tubes used to encase the under-wires in bras. The High Court, and subsequently the Court of Appeal, ruled that the terms of a settlement agreement between the parties precluded H&M from raising the issue of the validity of the patent whether by way of defence to infringement proceedings or counterclaim for revocation of the patent.

The dispute has now returned to the courts with Stretchline again claiming against H&M for infringement. The Patents Court ruled in November [1] that H&M was using the patented technology in 12 of its bra ranges, in each case without a licence. This was in breach of the settlement agreement previously considered by the High Court and Court of Appeal.

In its defence H&M argued that the patent was invalid in light of common general knowledge. The Court gave this argument short shrift, ruling that this was not relevant to the construction of the patent but rather was an attempt to introduce an argument that H&M was barred from raising.

Damages are to be assessed in the New Year as the scale of the infringement is not currently clear.

H&M has indicated that it may appeal.


[1] Stretchline Intellectual Properties Ltd v H & M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd [2015] EWHC 3298 (Pat)