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.”
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.