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Amazon.com Inc. recently announced its intention to make a foray into private-label athletic attire. While Lululemon already faces competition from brands such as Nike, Under Armour, Athleta, as well as others, the e-commerce company may pose a novel threat with its price-driven strategy. Moreover, in order to manufacture this new line of sportswear, Amazon has contracted Eclat Textile Co., a top Lululemon supplier that helped the yoga-pant giant create its signature Luon fabric as well as newer materials. This may prove problematic for Lululemon as it lacks the proper intellectual property protection to halt Amazon from invading its market. Not only is Lululemon known for its high-end technical athletic apparel, the Canadian retailer has previously been deemed “the fashion industry’s biggest patent troll” due to its aggressive acquisition of design patents and protection of its product line therewith. While the athletic retailer owns over 45 patents on its sports gear, most of these patents are focused on design aspects rather than the actual fabric used in the garments. Design patents cover the ornamental, nonfunctional aspects of a product’s design and provide 15 years of exclusive use. In contrast, utility patents cover the useful features of a product, that is, the way it is used or how it works, and provide for 20 years of exclusivity. With primarily design patents in its portfolio, Lululemon cannot stop Amazon from manufacturing and selling fabrics that are nearly identical to Lululemon’s signature materials at a fraction of the price. While many industry experts have opined Lululemon will likely see its market share and profit margins diminished by Amazon, Lululemon’s CEO, Laurent Potdevin, dispelled such concerns through assurances that the athleisure company would continue to focus on innovation and the high-end of the market. Potdevin further claimed, “I think Amazon is mostly around commodity product. That’s not our sandbox.” #omnilegalgroup #patents #lululemon #amazon