The Fur Flies in Spanx v. Yummie Tummie Patent Lawsuit – How Patinformatics Ended Up on The Huffington Post

The Friday posts are supposed to be funny. Hopefully people still learn something when they read them but they are supposed to be a bit whimsical. The past few have resulted from my daily habit of scanning the patent lawsuits filed the previous day. Last week I happened across the DJ filed by Spanx against Yummie Tummie and wrote a post on DJs and MedImmune v. Genentech. This looks interesting, I thought and with the help of my oh so clever wife, came up with the big girl panties title for the post.

I don’t publicize the Friday posts much since they are supposed to be for fun and after I hit publish on that one I had a chuckle and went about my business. This week started and I was fortunate enough to get a post published on IPWatchdog on Data Mining and Patent Analytics. I had a look at my site stats on Tuesday evening and noticed that the Spanx post had a surprising number of view. I figured this was due to the attention the IPWatchdog post generated and didn’t think anything more of it.

I had a look again yesterday and the Spanx post was still getting a lot of views. I also had a look at the search words that were bringing people to the site and noticed that most of them included Spanx and Yummie Tummie. Looking at link traffic to the site I noticed an item from The Huffington Post. Hold the phone, The Huffington Post, what in the world were they doing pointing to this obscure little blog for patent aficionados?

Well, it turns out that an article on the lawsuit was published in Women’s Wear Daily (WWD, I would provide the link but it is subscription only and I haven’t been able to read it yet) and this was picked up by The Huffington Post. Okay, so how did my post get associated with this? Did The Huffington Post link to my post within the article? Not quite. Did the WWD article link to me? Nope. If you scroll past the video segment with Spanx founder, Sara Blakely speaking with Oprah you will find a section entitled Around the Web and there you find a link to Patinformatics.com!

 

Link to Patinformatics Post on The Huffington Post

I have to say, while I was thrilled to end up being associated with the article I was sorry that they censored the title. I mean come on now, they missed the best part of what my wife wrote on that post.

And the hits kept right on coming today when the story went viral and could be found on almost all of the major news outlets. Of course, Heather Thompson, founder of Yummie Tummie fueled the flames when she went all Steve Jobs, thermonuclear on Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. In The Huffington Post and WWD articles Thomson is quoted as saying, “I hope [Spanx] is ready for war because I will not lie down.”

In my original post I ended with the following:

With all the talk of so called “patent trolls”, non-practicing entities (NPEs) and frivolous lawsuits it is important to realize that in the case of a DJ it is the party which may end up being an accused infringer who is actually firing the first shot in litigation. In some cases, negotiation and resolution, without involving the courts, may be the true intent of the patent holder but that option is being taken off the table.

In this particular case, it turns out that Spanx asked for an extension to continue exploring the allegations of design patent infringement and instead went ahead and filed their suit for Declaratory Relief!

And it is on now, baby! Besides going viral the story has now elicited the following response from Yummie Tummie in the form of a personal letter of admonishment from Heather Thomson to Sara Blakely:

Letter from Yummie Tummie Founder to Spanx Founder

Meow! Saucer of milk, table seven! I especially love the twitter tag of #shameonyouspanx. It certainly appears that the fur is now flying in the Battle of the Shapewear Pioneers (credit WWD for the flashy title). I also love how Yummie Tummie was the first to cry infringement and is now calling Spanx the bully! So far Spanx hasn’t officially responded to all of the hoopla but they almost certainly will.

They say on the internet sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle and that certainly seems to be the case here. The official sources are saying this story broke on Tuesday but you heard it here first on Patinformatics.com last Friday! Stay tuned for more riveting and topical news from the world of patents!

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