Bernardo Launches Another Lawsuit Over Its Studded Thong Sandal Design

After previously filing lawsuits against names from Balenciaga to Famous Footwear over its patented sandal design, Bernardo is now going after Tory Burch.

Bernardo filed a patent infringement lawsuit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The brand’s parent company, JPT Group, claims Tory Burch “misappropriated JPT’s patented ornamental sandal designs in [its] studded thong sandal line,” which is sold through Tory Burch’s stores and website, as well as at retailers like Neiman Marcus, Shopbop and Zappos.

Further, JPT alleges that the New York-based brand was aware of Bernardo’s patents on its Mojo sandals, which it obtained in 2008, and says it “has been damaged and will continue to be damaged” by the ongoing sale of the Emmy sandals. FN has reached out to Tory Burch for comment.

Bernardo's Mojo Sandals patent and Tory Burch's Emmy Pearl Sandals
Bernardo’s patented Mojo Sandals design and Tory Burch’s Emmy Pearl Sandals.

Bernardo was founded in 1946 by architect and author Bernard Rudofsky, and the brand holds numerous patents for its signature sandals. It’s also quite litigious in protecting them: JPT has filed 11 other patent-related lawsuits since 2014, according to court records, including suits against Balenciaga, Famous Footwear, Old Navy and Pedro Garcia.

Pedro Garcia settled with JPT last year over its Ianella sandal, which also allegedly infringed on JPT’s Mojo patents. As part of the settlement, it agreed not to sell the style in the U.S. and paid JPT $13,500 to cover the revenues from the shoe. Balenciaga’s parent company Kering likewise settled with JPT, though the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

In its latest suit, JPT is asking the court to grant a permanent injunction against Tory Burch’s ongoing production and sale of the sandals, damages in connection with the alleged infringement and a jury trial.

Watch FN’s video with Toms’ founder Blake Mycoskie here.

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