H&M found to have infringed patent in breach of settlement agreement

The Patents Court has issued its judgment in Stretchline Intellectual Properties Ltd v H&M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd [2015] EWHC 3298 (Pat), finding that high street retailer H&M was barred from challenging the patent on the basis of a settlement agreement entered into by the parties in 2011.

The claimant owned a UK patent for tubular fabric in underwired garments, which aimed to overcome the problem of underwires protruding through fabric. This was done by using a material which would strengthen the tubular fabric encasing the underwire. The claimant previously brought a claim for patent infringement against H&M in 2010, although the claim was settled in 2011. As part of the settlement agreement, H&M was precluded from raising the issue of patent invalidity.

In 2013 the claimant issued further proceedings, alleging that H&M was selling infringing goods and in doing so, had breached the terms of the settlement agreement. H&M argued that the patent was invalid in light of common general knowledge, although the High Court held that this argument was not relevant to the construction of the patent and was instead an attempt to introduce an argument H&M was barred from raising.

As such, the court concluded that H&M’s bras fell within the claims of the patent and the sale of those goods were made in breach of the 2011 settlement agreement.

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