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Is Victoria’s Secret a Stolen Bra Design?The bra that Katerina Plew contends is her original design. (Rendering: From Ms. Plew’s official complaint) By Alan FeuerApril 21, 2008Hear the phrase “intellectual property,” and the mind might wander to the epic struggle between the recording industry and Napster or the more recent battle between J. K. Rowling and a fan who wanted to publish “The Harry Potter Lexicon” as a literary love note.One place it will probably not go is toward thoughts of lingerie — brassieres and litigation being, as with many things, an uncomfortable fit. But then there was the lawsuit [pdf] filed on Monday in United States District Court in Manhattan: a patent matter relating to Victoria Secret’s “Very Sexy 100-Way Strapless Convertible Bra.”The bra is, according to the lawsuit, the intellectual creation of Katerina Plew, a Long Island paralegal, who registered it under United States Patent No. 6,733,362 in May 2004. Ms. Plew, who is 38, is now contending that Victoria’s Secret stole, then mass-produced, her specialized design.“The first time I thought of it I was getting ready for a christening,” Ms. Plew said in a telephone interview from her home in Selden, N.Y. “It was an idea that just popped into my head in — don’t know — like March of ’99.”The bra, with its various hooks and eyelets, is something like the Micronaut of the undergarment world. By a complicated series of maneuvers, it can be worn in as many as 100 different ways.Which, of course, made it a highly prized commodity to underwear purveyors. In 2006, Ms. Plew said she had arranged to meet with designers from Victoria’s Secret. But without warning and on the very day it was set to have occurred, the designers canceled her appointment, she contends.A Victoria’s Secret advertisement. Robin Olshavsky, a spokeswoman for Limited Brands Inc., Victoria Secret’s parent company, said she could not comment on pending litigation. Along with a screen grab from Victoria Secret’s online catalog promoting the bra, Ms. Plew included in her suit a copy of her patent form with a history of previous brassieres (from the Capparelli to the Zweben) and detailed renderings of her own invention, complete with “diagrammatic rear elevational view.”She says that she remembers precisely where she was when she first saw it strapped across the bosom of a mannequin.“I was in the Smith Haven Mall, in Lake Grove, and there was my bra,” she said. “It was on a huge display. I had to buy the bra to actually prove they were selling it. And I cried. I actually cried while buying my own bra.”
It was on a huge display
Ths has languished for too long!
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