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Billy Hunter

Editor's Viewpoint

21st July 2014, Ismaning, Germany

Polartec court action against Italian fabric manufacturer Pontetorto confirmed

Vertical Italian knitted fabric producer Pontetorto s.p.a and its German agent Christian Weichert, ausländische Textilvertretungen GmbH have confirmed that leading US outdoor manufacturing brand Polartec, LLC has filed a patent infringement complaint against them. The claim alleges that they infringe European Patent No. EP 1312 710 B1 which Polartec claims to have an exclusive license from the patent holder for.

According to a press statement issued today by Christian Weichert, Polartec’s case is that the patent covered grid-back, knit construction textiles and was breached by the sale of Pontetorto’s Technostretch and Tecnopile products. The statement of claim has in the meantime been served to Pontetorto s.p.a and Christian Weichert, ausländische Textilvertretungen GmbH. 

Pontetorto and Christian Weichert, say they are having the allegations and legal arguments made, thoroughly legally assessed and are preparing to defend their rights.

Initially, Pontetorto and Christian Weichert denied having any knowledge of the patent infringement complaint after Polartec issued a statement earlier this month. The 7th July statement said that Lawrence, Massachusetts based Polartec, had filed a patent infringement complaint with the German District Court Duesseldorf against Pontetorto S.P.A. and its German sales agent, Christian Weichert Internationale Textilvertretungen GmbH.

The complaint specifically alleges that the defendants have infringed and continue to infringe European Patent No. EP 1 312 710 B1 licensed exclusively to Polartec, that is directed to grid-back, knit construction textiles by the sale of Pontetorto’s Technostretch products.  In addition to monetary damages for patent infringement, Polartec’s lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing the sale of infringing products. 

“Innovation is the essence of the Polartec brand. Developing differentiated textile solutions and driving the entire industry forward requires a level of infrastructure and investment far in excess of the commitment from so-called fast followers,” stated Gary Smith, Polartec CEO in the original statement.

He continued, “Anytime someone takes our proprietary designs and asks another mill to ‘make it cheaper’, they are damaging our ability to innovate in the future and undermining the desire of innovators and designers everywhere to invest in bringing great ideas to market.”

Polartec, is known as the inventor of modern synthetic fleece and holds over 135 patents worldwide. The company says it is committed to defending its intellectual property through any legal means available.

According to Pontetorto’s website its Tecnostretch Fleece family with pile on the reverse side is the fastest growing product category at Pontetorto. The addition of spandex gives the fabric its stretch and special elasticity, while the smooth outers provide the high tech look.

All the while, the company says, the insulating properties of Pontetorto fleece remain, because the plush inners (sheared and napped or unbrushed with visible loops) trap a large volume of warming air inside.

According to Pontetorto, production requires skill and craftsmanship and the items should be just as resistant to snagging and pilling (pulled threads and balling) as all the other fleece qualities from Pontetorto. The website states that many years of development and experience has enabled Pontetorto to achieve the ideal combination of fibre density and knitting technique to produce incomparably light, soft, elastic, and yet still durable fabrics.

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