A win for JoeyBra: Founders of iPhone-friendly brassiere prevail in court

joeybra-phone

The JoeyBra is designed to carry a smartphone, among other things.

Good news for women who want to carry smartphones in their bras.

A federal judge has declined to award a preliminary injunction over a patent claim by a British man who filed suit last year against the University of Washington students who created the JoeyBra, a brassiere that’s designed to carry a smartphone.

[Correction: We've updated this post to clarify the effect of the judge's decision.]

Charles Robinson filed a design patent application for his bra in November 1999, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issuing the patent two years later. Last May, he filed suit, claiming that the JoeyBra copied his pocketed bra design.

In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ruled against Robinson’s motion for a preliminary injunction. He also dismissed the JoeyBra founders from the claim. The case can still continue to trial, but the judge said key elements of the JoeyBra “appear to be substantially different” from Robinson’s patented design.

“The pocket on Plaintiff’s design appears to be fit for a key, and after twelve years since receiving his patent, he does not have a product on the market,” wrote Moon. “Defendants’ JoeyBra product, on the other hand, holds an iPhone and credit cards, among other items.”

Kyle and Mariah

Kyle Bartlow and Mariah Gentry of JoeyBra

JoeyBra founders Mariah Gentry and Kyle Bartlow met at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, and presented their brassiere at last year’s business plan competition. We’ve reached out to the JoeyBra founders and we’ll update the post as we hear more. Update: Here’s a comment from Gentry and Bartlow about the judge’s most recent decision: “The ruling is encouraging, and we look forward to additional news. In the meantime, we will be focusing on building up for our relaunch and getting ready to debut our sports bra.”

Last October, the founders told GeekWire that they believed they would prevail in court.

“Being that our pocket covers the whole side of the bra, is on the outside, and is large enough to hold a phone, credit card, ID, etc. the claim of infringement is a stretch at best,” they said.

Here’s a copy of the latest order by Judge Moon who also wrote that “the carrying capacity and overall functionality of the allegedly infringing product also appear substantially different.”

Hat tip to Adam Philipp of Aeon Law.

  • hc

    Very misleading article. This isn’t over at all. Read the order. The preliminary injunction was denied (which is not at all unusual), and while the individuals are dismissed from the suit, JoeyBra LLC was not (also not unusual). The case continues.

    • JournalismIsDead

      It’s okay, they’re not really journalists so they don’t read what they post or even try to understand the subject matter they’re covering. They just regurgitate whatever people send them.

      • johnhcook

        Thanks for the feedback, and I apologize for the error. I’ve clarified the portion of the article to indicate that the founders were dismissed from the claim. We do strive to be accurate in our reporting (having worked as journalists, both in traditional media and online for more than a decade). But, that said, we still sometimes muck things up. Thanks for feedback.

        • Thomas R.

          Duck and weave the haters John, keep at it. Articles on Geekwire have certainly been improving.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks. I’ve corrected the article. While it’s common for preliminary injunctions to be declined, the judge seemed especially skeptical of the ultimate chances for success.

  • Questionable

    Sorry – just have to ask – does anyone else think that putting a device that’s known to increase cancer risks next to already susceptible tissue is wise? I’m not pretending most women would think twice, meanwhile, if there were any ethical means for people to invest in the oncology market, it looks to be ever bullish.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Christensen/676694755 Mike Christensen

      Known? I’ve never heard this. Can you cite scientific studies please?

    • boop

      I just want to know how a person is supposed to pull stuff out of her bra in public?

      • denis.urbano@yahoo.com

        Like a mother when she is giving milk to her baby on the train….in that way you can pull off the phone….

    • Henry Tirebiter

      What device is “known to cause cancer”? Cite your sources please. Not some op ed piece, but from a real Jounral of Medicine. Otherwise, you’re just spouting nonsense.

      • http://twitter.com/coppersloane Copper Sloane Levy

        I just found several articles in my university’s archives, one in particular from a respected source that says phone radiation ‘pushes cells around.’ And while this isn’t the same as ’causes cancer’ having your cells manipulated can lead to or accelerate a process that results in cancer. I’d provide links, but unless you attend my university, you can’t see them.

        • Phil Meiklejohn

          You can CITE them dumbass. But hey you just go ahead and keep your phone in your pocket right around the corner from your balls…. much better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PortaPocketGal Kendra Kroll

    An on-going story …thanks for the update. I think the likelihood that the infringement claim will stand is a stretch as it’s all based on a design patent…not utility…but we’ll see! In the meantime…there seems to be an ongoing need to find ways for people (esp women) to safely carry their phones etc and to @8922b0eec571862ed3e41c2452336ef0:disqus ‘s point…that’s another reason my patented PortaPocket is here. Works WITHOUT relying on using one’s chest to do it. just google “portapocket” and you’ll see what I mean .

    • Jon Brown

      So Charles Robinson got a patent on adding a pocket to clothing? Who is granting these patents? The differences between the designs are irrelevant… it’s a pocket, hidden or otherwise, on a piece of clothing.

      • Jim Stumbo

        My thoughts exactly. Is there a patent for putting a pocket on pants? On a shirt, coat, bag? What about a patent for a hem? A seam?

      • http://www.facebook.com/PortaPocketGal Kendra Kroll

        actually Jon, it is very relevant to the uspto. even one word can change the whole tone of an application.

  • http://twitter.com/coppersloane Copper Sloane Levy

    Fantastic idea. Place a device that radiates energy that pushes your cells around, right next to your boob with all that fatty tissue in it. Brilliant!

    • AS

      You need to understand how cell phones work, there is no energy radiating anywhere tell a phone call is made or received.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brian.nebeker Brian Nebeker

        That is not true, cell phones talk to the towers on a frequent basis so when you place a call they already know which tower has the strongest signal. When you are not in a call the time spend communicating with the tower is minimized so the average trasmittion power is much lower but if you are in a dead or nearly dead zone the process of searching for a cell tower can lead to a much large average transmittion power.

        The contant keeping track of which tower to talk to is the reason your cell phone can be used to track your movement. If three towers are close enough to receive your signal with sufficent strength your location can be approximated using the location of the three towers that received your signal.

        On top of that most cell phones these days do more than just make calls. Text messages, updates of the software, voice mail sent directly to the phone, and service provider messages keep your phone active when your are not talking on it. If you were not for the higher communication speeds that shorten the time required to communicate and the ability to go into extremely low power standy states between talking with the tower, your battery would be dead much faster than it is now. Find yourself a no service area and you will see just how much faster the battery dies.

      • http://www.facebook.com/buddhaflow Sasha Shepherd

        No, for instance men who carry cell phones in their trouser pockets have been shown to have lower sperm counts, and I think higher risk of testicular cancer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/buddhaflow Sasha Shepherd

    This fucking shit is going to give people cancer. How stupid are people?