Bernardo, a footwear brand that was launched in 1946 at the encouragement of Vogue’s then editor-in-chief, Diana Vreeland, has slapped Old Navy with a patent infringement lawsuit. According to its complaint, which was filed this past week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Bernardo alleges that Old Navy "slavishly" copied two of its patented sandal designs (which are "among the most distinctive and well-known in the footwear industry"), mass producing them and distributing them under the Old Navy brand name. Moreover, Bernardo claims that Old Navy was aware of its sandal designs (which are stocked on the brand's website, as well as at Nordstrom and on Zappos' site) and the corresponding patent protections, and yet, Old Navy continued to sell the infringing sandals (in "significant volumes") anyway.
Bernardo's complaint states that “Rather than undertaking their own independent development, the Old Navy defendants slavishly copied Bernardo’s innovative designs, violating JPT’s [Bernardo's IP holding company] valuable intellectual property rights embodied by Bernardo branded products." The patents at issue, U.S. Patent No. D495,855 and D508,305, cover the ornamental designs for women's sandals.
The suit asks the judge to grant a permanent injunction barring Old Navy from further infringement of the patents, in addition to awarding damages to JPT for the infringement of the patents. It also asks the court to find that the infringement was willful and to increase the damages to three times the awarded amount, in addition to awarding interest, costs and attorneys' fees.