Micro company Howies, the bike/skate t-shirt-to-jeans producer of Wales, is being threatened with legal action by Levi Strauss Inc. Howies is seeking the loan of a photocopier to print off a load of protest letters and press releases. Not that it'll be needed: this story has been picked up by news sites all around the world and Howies is getting the kind of press coverage it would take a behemoth like Levi Strauss to afford!

Goliath to sue David (and Goliath has already lost the PR battle)

And what is the heinous Howies crime?

Allegedly, it’s copyright infringement.

Company co-founder Dave Hieatt picks up the story:

"Although our [jeans] label is grey and says howies, the letter [from Levi Strauss] says it could lead to confusion in the market place because of our placement of the label. As we have just found out, they have a patent on the actual placement of the label."

The San Francisco all-things-denim corporate monster (12 000 employees, annual revenues of $4bn) took out a label-placement patent in 1938. Oddly enough, the patent applies to label placement on the right back pocket. The Howies label is on the left back pocket.

Amazingly, the writ-threat letter from Levi Strauss said the American company may seek monetary damages from Howies, which employs just five people and sells just 2000 pairs of jeans a year.

Howies isn’t taking this lying down. The company is to produce protest t-shirts where the proceeds will "go towards the fight for common sense."

And calling all Levi jeans owners: want to add yout own protest? Howies can help.

"If you would like to replace ‘you know who’s tab’ on your jeans with a howies tab as a way of protesting about their behaviour, we will you supply you a free howies tab to put wherever you like," said Hiatt.


And to see how wide this story is now being carried – thanks, Levis, Howies must be thinking! – type ‘Howies Levi Strauss’ in the google search engine.

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