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Copyright & Patents/Re-designing a Patented Dress

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Question
Patent Application
Patent Application  
Garment Sketch
Garment Sketch  
QUESTION: Hello,

I'm starting a clothing line and want to produce the clothes with an inner lining of fabric attached to the outer garment of stretch fabric that will slim the body and made the wearer of the clothes look slimmer.

I did a patent search and found that a similar product was already patented (I've attached pics of the patent documents) and I'm wondering if you can clear up some things I'm confused about:

1- I read the application and I'm not sure what exactly is being patented and what my limitations would be.

Is it the lining that's being patented or producing garments with slimming fabric being sewn into the clothes as lining?

Does this bar other companies from producing clothes that are constructed similarly?

2- I want to add sleeves to my version of this dress. If your answer to my first question is that any production of clothes with attached shapewear is patent infringement, would adding sleeves be a work around and not be considered infringement?

3- If I added sleeves, would that qualify me to get my own patent?

Thanks in advance for your help.

ANSWER: What is covered in the patent is defined by the claims. You need to read them carefully.
A more basic question is "What is the issue date of the patent?" If it is over twenty years, it has expired.

Best wishes on your project!

Adding sleeves might be allowed as an improvement on the basic patent, but if the basic patent is still in force, you would have to cut a deal with the inventor.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick response. I noticed in the claim they specify the type of fabric that the lining is. Would I potentially be out of the woods if I used the same concept of shapewear built into the clothes but used a different fabric that does not fall under the fabric category listed in the claim?...and also some different elements like closures, paneling, etc?

Answer
You need to read each claim carefully. If you use each element in your design, you are infringing If you do it without one of the elements, you aren't. If an element of the claim is not used, you are okay. But, you have to check all claims to be sure that you aren't infringing any one of them. Too often a claim winds up very narrow before it could be allowed, and the inventor winds up with a very expensive piece of wallpaper.

I suggest you read "Patent It Yourself" by David Pressman, published by Nolo Press of Berkley, California & available through your local library. Or, consult a local Patent Attorney and spend a few grand on an infringement opinion. Infringement opinions is in the area of tort law which we Patent Agents don't get into.

Best wishes on your project!  

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George H. Morgan, P.E., Patent Agent

Expertise

U.S. Patent Law only, no copyright or trademark qualification. I was a volunteer in the past, but my homeland defense activities pulled me away at times, and I was dropped. If you want me back, I am willing to come back.

Experience

Thirty one years as a Registered U.S. Patent Agent and a lifetime in product and manufacturing process and methods development as well as sales and marketing of new products with a number of blue chip corporations.

Organizations
Rotary, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Army Aviation Association, Registered Professional Engineer, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Indiana Guard Reserve Officer

Publications
Various Society of Manufacturing Engineers & Society of Automotive Engineers technical publications. Ref. my web site: http://www.evansville.net/biz/patagent

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Machine Design Option), L.S.U., Baton Rouge, Louisiana; M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics Option), University of Missouri at Rolla, Missouri, Helicopter Maintenance Course, 18 weeks, Ft. Sill Army Aviation School, Troop Information and Education Leadership Course, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Numerous Society of Automotive Engineers Seminars, Dale Carnegie Management Training Instructors Course.

Awards and Honors
Bausch & Lomb Science Award, Indiana Homeland Defense Service Ribbon, 2003.

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