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Hello, my name is Richard and I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for.
Just because they have a patent pending does not mean they can prevent you from producing your product. Assuming what you each have is patentable, if you developed your apparel first, even if he had a patent you would be able to continue to produce your products without a license from the other party. If you independently develop something that is patentable, you are not required to license another's product.
These issues are highly technical and it is not something you can do on a do it yourself basis. It is highly fact specific and whether something is patentable can be highly technical. I strongly recommend you retain patent counsel to assist you.
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The other company may or may not run into the same problem as some of the other companies you mentioned. Since it is clear that they did not provide you with any reference number to their application you can submit your position to Patent office and reference their company and the nature of the product. However, to achieve the goal you want you will need an attorney to make a coherent argument that they have brought nothing new to the area. The fact that something is novel is the critical criteria for obtaining a patent. Since I do not know all the details of the product or what they claim makes their product new, I cannot be more specific than that. If you do not want to spend any money, I suggest you put in a letter with whatever suppporting documentation you can muster in a letter to the Patent office in the hope that will make them lok carefully at the patent application.
What you have is an idle threat. Until he has a patent he has nothing on which to base a claim. The only thing they can sue you for now is if you stole what they claim to be their intellectual property. Since that does not appear to be the case, they have no basis for a claim. As for the cost of an attorney it is very difficult to say because I have no real idea of the nature of the product or what makes it unique or not unique. I would estimate it wiould cost you about $2,500-$3,000 to get an initial analysis by a patent attorney and from that evaluation you could decide how far you want to take the matter. You will not get an answer but the issues that have to be addressed and what it would cost to get a definite answer and a go forward strategy.
This site does not provide legal representation only legal information. Such a letter would consitutte representation in violation of site rules so I could not provide such a letter. I am sorry.
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