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Nike Sues Skechers for Trademark Infringement

By David Lilenfeld on February 8, 2016

Nike is suing Skechers for patent infringement arising under Patent Laws of the United States, 35 U.S.C. § 101 et seq because Skechers copied sneaker designs from Nike. In the lawsuit, Nike claims Skechers is selling sneakers that infringe on eight Nike design patents issued to the company. The Burst, Flex Appeal and Flex Advantage are the alleged patented designs owned by Nike that Skechers used without Nike’s permission. Without Nike’s authorization, Skechers made, used, sold, and imported sneakers having designs that violate the Nike patents. This lawsuit precipitates less than four months after Adidas sued Skechers for trademark infringement.

Nike's design

Nike's design

Skecher's allegedly trademark infringing shoe

Skecher's allegedly infringing version

On January 4th in Oregon’s U.S. District Court, Nike claimed Skechers used designs that were too similar to Nike’s shoes for the Burst, Women’s Flex Appeal, Men’s Flex Advantage, Girl’s Skech Appeal and Boy’s Flex Advantage Shoes. Nike owns the exclusive rights in the ornamental designs of the named sneakers. Thus, it has the right to sue and recover for past, present and future infringement of each of the Nike patented sneaker designs from the date each patent duly and legally was issued to Nike. The company is asking for a permanent injunction to prevent Skechers from further manufacturing shoes with the infringing designs. Nike is also seeking damages from the sale of Skechers’ shoes. Nike has and will continue to suffer irreparable harm by Skechers’ infringement of the Nike patents.

The spokeswoman for Skechers, Jennifer Gray, has said that no court date has been set for this case. Skechers has declined to comment further on the matter. It is worthy to note, this is the second lawsuit Nike has filed against Skechers. In 2014, the Nike-owned brand, Converse said its Chuck Taylor design was infringed upon by Skechers. In 2015, the Skechers stock was up 150% surpassing top brands such as Nike and Adidas. Skechers argues it created its own niche in the sneaker industry. Instead of targeting professional athletes like LeBron James or James Harden, Skechers sought to target pop singers like Demi Lovato or Meghan Trainor as endorsers. Furthermore, the Skechers sneakers focused on style and comfort as opposed to athletic performance, which was Nike and Adidas goal.

Even though the brands used different model names, the overall appearance of the designs of the Nike patents and the designs of the Skecher’s infringing shoes are substantially similar. It would appear that these designs are likely to cause confusion to ordinary consumers.

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