Levi's sues the pants off of Polo

Denim maker files a lawsuit claiming the sportswear company copied its trademark stitching.

By Keisha Lamothe, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Jeans and apparel-maker Levi Strauss & Co. is suing Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. for allegedly copying the denim maker's trademarked pocket stitching design.

Levi's filed the civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming the sportswear company used the stitching, known as an "arcuate" design, which is the oldest know apparel trademark in the United States and has been legally protected since 1873.

In the court filing, Levi's said Polo Ralph Lauren "has in the past and continues to manufacture, source, market and/or sell clothing that displays stitching designs that are confusingly similar to [Levi Strauss & Co.'s] arcuate trademark."

The denim company is seeking compensation for unspecified losses in profits and other damages, and a court injunction to stop Polo Ralph Lauren from making any apparel with its trademark stitching design.

Levi's included photos in the lawsuit of two Polo Ralph Lauren jeans that mirror Levi's famous two bowed lines connecting at a point on the pockets.

E.J. Bernacki, a Levi's spokesman, said that the company had not yet served the complaint to Polo Ralph Lauren because Levi's is trying to work on reaching an amicable agreement first.

In a statement released Tuesday, Polo Ralph Lauren said, "As a company with a strong brand identity, which owns unique intellectual property and recognizes the importance of protecting its valuable trademark rights, Polo Ralph Lauren takes this subject matter very seriously."

"While we have not yet been served with this complaint, we believe that the designs at issue are clearly distinguishable from those of Levi's," Polo Ralph Lauren said.

Shares of Polo Ralph Lauren (down $2.41 to $96.82, Charts) closed down 2.4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. Top of page