A staple in every prepster's wardrobe is the classic bow tie, especially a navy and white striped version from Brooks Brothers. But did you ever take a close look at those ties? Apparently the adorning patent numbers, used for mostly aesthetic purposes, struck a nerve with a New Jersey lawyer who discovered the use of expired numbers on the clothier's merchandise (perhaps he had too much time on his hands).
Upon hearing of the suit last May, I, like the judge hearing the claims, didn't think the lawyer had any standing to sue (lack of personal stake in the subject matter or outcome of the case). But on August 31st a Federal Circuit Court in Washington thought otherwise and allowed the lawyer to sue.
Other than committing a fashion faux pas if tied incorrectly, or using a pre-tied variety, I can't see the harm in the expired patent numbers on the bow ties. Unlike some retail perpetrators who rip off other's ideas faster than a linen strip at the waxing salon, Brooks Brothers can't be said to have tried to profit through thievery (in fact, lack of intent to deceive is a defense to the action). I think the lawyers should save their strength for more pressing matters (habeas corpus claims, financial fraud, women who wear harem pants) and leave the veteran retailer and its iconic silk ties alone.