Shapewear Squabble Settles
By Alison Parker
Reviewed by Jennifer Williams
Ladies, let’s admit, we all love shapewear–it fools people into thinking we have a toned and taut tummy, and may actually be the greatest clothing invention ever. Times Three Clothier feels the same way; the company obtained a patent over its “Yummie Tummie Strappy Tank” in December 2009. The patent covers the design of a form-fitting tank top.
The slimming and smoothing undergarment has proved to be quite the profitable wardrobe innovation–since its debut, the Yummie Tummie shapewear line has enjoyed sales in the $8 million range. Its success has been so immense that another undergarment company, Maidenform, caught wind of the cash cows and decided to make their own version of the trickery tanks. Times Three then contacted Maidenform about its multimillion dollar “Fat Free Dressing by Flexees” line because it believed that these shapewear tanks infringed on their design patent. But Maidenform didn’t think so–and the back and forth battle began.
Instead of acknowledging their mistake, Maidenform filed a lawsuit in March 2010 in the Southern District Court of Manhattan seeking to invalidate the Yummie Tummie patent. Maidenform also claimed that even if the Yummie Tummie patent is valid, the Flexees tank did not infringe it. At the time the suit was filed, Times Three had only one design patent over the Yummie Tummie Strappy tank but the company has since obtained three more Yummie Tummie patents.
A few months after Maidenform filed suit, Times Three countersued accusing Maidenform of patent infringement, but the parties decided to resolve their differences outside of court. Maidenform has agreed to pay Yummie Tummie $6.75 million and has also agreed not to assist any third party who seeks to invalidate or render unenforceable the Yummie Tummie patents. Although Maidenform would likely disagree, this was the most desirable outcome. The ability to obtain and enforce patents encourages companies like Times Three to keep doing what they do and thrive off making us look good.