A New York woman filed suit against Limited Brands Inc. Monday alleging the parent company of Victoria's Secret stole her idea for its Very Sexy 100-way strapless convertible bra.
Katerina Plew sued in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, saying Victoria's Secret infringed her May 2004 patent and knew about the patent since at least April 2006.
"I came up with the idea when I was trying to find a bra to go with one of the two dresses that I could wear to my triplets' christening," said Plew, 38. "I went crazy looking for a bra where the straps wouldn't show and couldn't find anything."
Her triplets — David, Thomas and Alexis — are now nine years old. She also has an 11-year-old daughter named Paris.
Plew, a divorced single mother who works as a paralegal, said she researched her product visiting stores and looking through catalogues, and "that's when I came up with the idea."
She said she spent about $12,000 to patent the product and developed a prototype.
"When I realized how much it would cost to produce, I started contacting companies," she said.
Plew had an appointment to meet with a Victoria's Secret executive to whom she had mailed a copy of her patent, as well as a DVD with pictures of a model showing her bra, only to have the appointment abruptly canceled.
"A year later I walked into a Victoria's Secret and there was my bra up on the wall," she said.
"I actually cried," Plew told the New York Daily News on Monday as her kids wolfed down ice cream at a Long Island Friendly's. "I bought one. I took it home. I couldn't believe it," she said.
The bra retails for between $50 and $56, according to the Victoria's Secret website. Like Plew's invention, the "VS-Bra" has straps that detach along with numerous eyelets and hooks that allow it to be worn in 100 different ways, the lawsuit says.
Plew is seeking unspecified damages.
Limited Brands said it does not comment on pending litigation.
--Reuters contributed to this report