Lululemon’s Yoga Pants Lawsuit Raises Questions
If talk of patenting yoga poses makes you groan, brace yourself—your pants are
next. High-end yoga clothier and swag maker, Lululemon is attempting
to enforce a patent on the waistband of their Astro Pant. As trivial as it
may seem, the case could have a big impact for future design patents. It’s also
a good reminder that yoga merchandise is still just stuff.
Some legal experts are already claiming that perhaps Lululemon shouldn’t have been
granted a patent in the first place, and that perhaps it is actually the fact
the Calvin Klein pants are $78 cheaper that really chaps the lemon. If my two
year old, $20 Danskin pants with a nearly identical waist are any indication,
overlapping panels of fabric are hardly revolutionary; but, Lululemon thinks
the offending pants came too close to reproducing their patented design.
has historically been difficult to protect design elements against
infringement, and some
believe this is a good thing as idea exchanges spur creativity and innovation.
If the case is successful, these traits, which have long been a hallmark of the
fashion industry, could be hampered.
is no stranger to capitalistic controversy. The company
caused a stir last year with merchandise celebrating Ayn Rand’s exemplar of
self-interest, John Galt. Although many shoppers didn’t get the reference,
others were offended that the company could promote such an un-yogic
philosophy. If all press is good press, the merchandise was a perfect example
of the theory of rational egoism Rand supported.
the end, the details of this case have less to do with yoga than they do with
profit; yet, we can still extrapolate some juicy yogic lessons. Patanjali lays
out important moral and ethical guidelines in the Yamas
of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. We could argue that Lululemon should practice
Aparigraha (non-hoarding), and stop clinging to the details of their not exceptionally unique designs;
or, that Calvin Klein should practice Asteya (non-stealing) and work harder to
come up with their own designs. While these both may or may not be valid, as
consumers who are also yogis we have so many more options, even beyond voting
with our dollars.
can start by asking what is really important about our practice – is it fancy
pants, a pricy mat, or is it something deeper? If we attempt to practice Samtosha (contentment),
we look inward, not at what our neighbor is wearing or sitting on. This can be
hard to remember in the hustle of everyday life with advertisements coming at
us from every direction. Luckily, we
have yoga and it doesn’t take any special equipment to take a deep breath and
reconnect with Samtosha.
do you think about Lululemon’s lawsuit?