180s suing retailer H&M over ear warmers

The Baltimore outerwear company famous for its wrap-behind-the-head ear warmers has filed its second patent infringement suit in as many weeks against a well-known retailer for allegedly ripping off its flagship product.

In a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, 180s Inc. and a subsidiary claim that H&M Hennes & Mauritz L.P.’s “adjustable band” ear warmers infringe two of its patents and one of its trademarks. 180s seeks injunctions against the New York-based defendant as well as monetary damages.

A 180s attorney at Reston, Va.-based Cooley Godward Kronish LLP declined to comment. H&M’s spokeswoman did not return a call for comment by press time.

The suit against H&M, part of a chain that was originally founded in Sweden and now sells its trendy clothing in 38 countries, comes on the heels of a similar one, implicating three different patents and the same trademark, against Brookstone Inc. and its “Luxe” ear warmers on Nov. 15.

180s, which was founded by a pair of Wharton MBAs who began selling their earmuffs on QVC in 1995 before moving to Baltimore two years later, has zealously protected the intellectual property behind its biggest seller through federal lawsuits. In June, the company settled a similar suit against Gordini USA Inc.

H&M, which now has nine stores in Maryland malls, plans to open a store in Baltimore’s Harborplace next year.

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