When you build a better mousetrap, it is said, the world will beat a path to your door. Well, sometimes. In business, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, but instead an attempt to take market share. And typically, you do not want to help others along in that enterprise. In fact, there is a whole branch of business litigation that deals with those issues via patent, copyright and trademark infringement.
One element of trade dress, the overall look and feel of a product, like an iPhone, may even extend to a style and characteristic of a store. One of the most successful recent store concepts has been that of Lululemon Athletica, a seller of expensive yoga clothing. The stores have features like yoga classes and running clubs, and have been very profitable, selling $100 a pair yoga pants.
Competitors, like California's Athleta, now owned by the Gap, and other athletic clothing manufacturers, like Under Armour, Nike have been attempting to replicate Lululemon's success.
Unfortunately, it appears Lululemon has given its competitors an opportunity for gaining some of the lucrative market share. They have recalled all of their yoga pants made with a luon fabric because of customer complaints and returns, caused by the fabric being too sheer during yoga practice.
The company claims that the fabric met it quality specifications, but nonetheless failed their customer's quality check. The company has had other difficulties that may be related to increasing production capacity to meet customer demand.
The recall and lost sales from the absence of the yoga pants is expected to result in up to a $67 million loss this year for the company. And their competitors hope that isn't all they lost.
Source: The New York Times, "Recall Is Expensive Setback for Maker of Yoga Pants," Stephanie Clifford, March 21, 2013