Shoemaker Claims Competitors Are Walking All Over Patent Rights

Cases involving patent disputes can be especially frustrating because the patent infringement makes a patent holder feel as if his or her hard work is being stolen. Patent lawsuits are fairly common and the importance of protecting patent rights is essential to avoiding a courtroom, as is the case for Bernardo shoes.

Shoe retailer and designer, Bernardo shoes, was founded by architect and author Bernard Rudofsky and has been selling its signature, patented sandals since 1946. The brand holds several patents for its sandals, which led to a recent string of patent infringement lawsuits. The most recent of which is on file in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In JPT Group, LLC v. Tory Burch LLC, Case No. 4:19-cv-2040, Bernardo’s parent company, JPT Group, claimed shoe retailer and designer Tory Burch, “misappropriated JPT’s patented ornamental sandal designs in its studded thong sandal line.” The sandals in question sold throughout Tory Burch’s stores and through its website, as well as via retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, and Zappos. Additionally JPT alleged Tory Burch was aware of Bernardo’s established patents on its Mojo sandals, which it obtained in 2008.

Bernardo Shoes and JPT are no strangers to patent lawsuits. JPT has filed at least 11 other patent-related lawsuits since 2014, including suits against Balenciaga, Famous Footwear, Old Navy, and Pedro Garcia.

Pedro Garcia settled its dispute with JPT just last year over its Illanea sandal, which also allegedly infringed on JPT’s Mojo patents. As a part of this particular settlement, Pedro Garcia agreed to no longer sell the style within the U.S. and paid JPT $13,500 in order to cover its alleged lost revenue. Balenciaga’s parent company, Kering, also settled its claims with JPT, though the terms were not released.

In JPT’s latest suit against Tory Burch, the company is asking the court to grant a permanent injunction against Tory Burch’s ongoing production and sale of the sandals, damages in connection with the alleged infringement, as well as a jury trial. The results of this case between two powerful players in the shoe design and manufacturing market will be very interesting. As is often the case, the Markman hearing, or “Claim Construction Hearing,” could be outcome determinative.

Houston Patent Infringement Attorneys

Individuals and/or businesses can infringe upon your patent rights unintentionally or deliberately. Filing for a patent is the best way to protect your ideas, but the process can be challenging without the help of a knowledgeable Houston patent attorney. The attorneys at Adair Myers Graves Stevenson apply for patents, protect your rights if a patent is being infringed upon, and defend you against allegations of patent infringement. Contact us today to see how we can protect your ideas or fight for your interests if you are already engaged in a patent dispute.