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The Mother of All Inventions

Katerina Plew claims to have had a less-than-uplifting experience with Victoria's Secret and its "Very Sexy 100-Way Strapless Convertible Bra."   According to a complaint filed yesterday in federal district court, the Long Island paralegal is the real inventor of the bra -- and Victoria's Secret has merely found 100 ways to infringe her patent.

Patent no. 189,672 from 1877While few fashion-related innovations qualify for patent protection, and the process of obtaining a patent is generally too slow and too expensive for those that do, women's foundation garments are among the categories of clothing for which protection has frequently been sought.  A successful new innerwear invention won't be "out" after one season, but will win customers -- and generate profits -- for years.  Thus over the past two centuries, the U.S. Patent Office has kept abreast of new form-fitting and figure-flattering technologies, from corsets to push-up bras.  Check out Theresa Riordan's illustrated history, Inventing Beauty, for more detail.   

If Plew's case goes to trial, Judge Laura Taylor Swain will have to navigate some tricky legal curves.  Counterfeit Chic suspects, however, that there will be no shortage of law clerks offering to review the evidence. 

In the meantime, some enterprising publisher has no doubt commissioned a future bestseller:  100 Ways to Unhook a Very Sexy Convertible Bra

Thanks to Andrew Wolinsky for the tip!