Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Jeans maker accused of design rip-off

G-Star Raw alleges Jeanswest used its distinctive design features on its own jeans.
G-Star Raw alleges Jeanswest used its distinctive design features on its own jeans.

Two foreign-owned jean-makers are in a New Zealand court fight where one alleges the other copied its design.

Dutch clothing company G-Star Raw, and one of its distributors, has alleged Australian company Jeanswest sold a style of pants that is a copy, or "substantial copy", of a design it owns the copyright for.

According to a claim G-Star has taken against Jeanswest Corporation New Zealand, a French designer working for the Amsterdam-based company came up with a style of jeans in 1995 known as the "Elwood 5620" design. G-Star says the Elwood design is a "signature product" and that at least 10 million garments featuring it have sold worldwide.

These Elwood jeans have "distinct design features" including oval-shaped knee pads, horizontal stitching running across the back of each knee, a straight line of double stitching coming from the hip to the crotch diagonally across the front of the thigh of each leg, a saddle pad of the back of the jeans and heel guards at the back of each leg.

G-Star's claim alleges that, with the exception of the saddle pad, a Jeanswest style called "Dean Biker Slim" contained these features.

"Moreover, each of the features appears in the Jeanswest product in the same position, and in the same relative proportions, as the Elwood 5620 jeans."

While the Jeanswest product sold for $34.99, G-Star said its Elwood jeans were priced between $260 and $310.

G-Star wants a declaration Jeanswest infringed its copyright, orders that it will be restrained from reproducing the Elwood design and Jeanswest to hand over any of the allegedly infringing garments. It also wants an inquiry into damages.

A lawyer for Jeanswest says the company is defending the claim, which is due to be heard in Auckland next month.

G-Star is also attempting to join two other Jeanswest companies - Jeanswest Wholesale and Jeanswest Corporation - and this application will be considered by the High Court this month.

- NZ Herald

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