The world’s leading innovator in athletic footwear, sports apparel, and other related equipment, Nike Inc., has increased pressure on its rival footwear company, Skechers USA Inc., by filing another Patent Infringement Lawsuit and accusing it of building its business by copying patented shoe features. In the documents filed with the US District Court in the Central District of California on 28th October 2019, Nike has claimed that Skechers’ Skech-Air Jumpin’ Dots and Mega shoes infringe on patents for its Air and other footwear cushioning technologies. Besides, Nike also pointed out a few features of Skechers’ shoes, including sole structures with a ‘fluid-filled bladder’ and ‘plurality of foam beads’ filling the cavity of the shoes, which are strikingly similar to the technology features on its footwear.
The sportswear giant further stated in its complaint that Skechers’ business strategy revolves around copying the designs and innovative technologies developed by its competitors to gain market share, and its alleged infringement is intentional, willful, and deliberate. The lawsuit has also stated that Nike’s act of enforcing its Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) against violators and infringers, including copyists like Skechers isn’t bullying in any aspect, and IP Rights always encourage talented inventors and companies like Nike to engage in something creative and innovative.
In a recent statement, a spokesperson for Nike said that Nike holds a strong history of leadership, creativity, and innovation in the field of footwear design and development, helps athletes to reach their potential, and vigorously enforces the IP Rights to protect those innovations.
It happens to be the fourth lawsuit that Nike has filed against Skechers in recent years – the first one of which was brought in 2014 against Skechers by Nike subsidiary Converse Inc., – a five-year saga centered on the famous Chuck Taylor midsole trademark. In a recent ruling on 9th October 2019, a judge for the US International Trade Commission found that Skechers’ Twinkle Toes and Bobs product lines didn’t violate or infringe on Converse’s midsole trademark and the case now heads to the full commission for a final decision.
Nike has also accused Skechers alleging patent infringement of its VaporMax and Air Max 270 designs in a lawsuit filed on 30th September 2019, to which, Skechers responded by posting a full-page ad on Twitter and in the New York Times by calling Nike a ‘bully’ and criticizing it for using its vast resources to stifle competition in the courtroom instead of competing in the marketplace. The case is still pending in court.
As of now, Nike is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction from the court for the allegedly offending designs.