Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE) (ADDYY.PK) on Monday escalated its legal battle against Skechers USA Inc (SKX.N) over athletic sneaker designs, filing a lawsuit accusing Skechers of stealing its “Springblade” concept for its similar “Mega Flex” shoe.
Yep they look pretty darned similar.
Yep they look pretty darned similar.
Can’t say I disagree with that. As an owner of SKX, I wonder how a negative ruling could impact SKX. The impact may be dependent how many of these types of shoes SKX sells. They sure are ugly anyway.
This link has a comparison of the shoes. I didn’t see the pic of the shoes in the previous link. I don’t think one shoe design is going to do much damage.
A sneaker looks like a sneaker looks like a sneaker. Got to be more than looks.
A sneaker looks like a sneaker looks like a sneaker. Got to be more than looks.
No doubt. Just by looking you can see minor differences. For instance, the adidas blades are thinner with thinner pads and probably more per shoe. I’m sure SKX reviewed the patent before releasing their shoe and believes their product does not interfere.
One would think both have well paid patent attorneys who know what they are doing. There is no way to know which direction this will go and no way to really assess the impact of a negative outcome for SKX. I guess that is why I was trying to figure out the sales associated with this particular shoe thinking that should shed some light on the risk.
I’m sure SKX reviewed the patent before releasing their shoe…
For Skechers’ sake, I hope not. That’s triple damages if they lose the lawsuit. That’s why Adidas’ complaint takes great pains to point out that Skechers almost certainly knew of the patents.
The complaint cites certain patent claims, for instance: A sole for an article of footwear, the sole comprising: a sole plate comprising a plurality of leaf springs disposed in a rearfoot area of the sole plate and a plurality of leaf springs disposed in a forefoot area of the sole plate, wherein each of the plurality of leaf springs has a connection end connected to the sole plate and an end not directly connected to the sole plate, and where all ends not directly connected to the sole plate point in substantially the same direction, and wherein two or more leaf springs come together integrally to form a single end not directly connected to the sole plate.
And then goes on to show how Skechers’ shoe meets all that criteria. Ouch
This section of the complaint is also pretty damning:
In a Skechers’ form 10-K, Skechers identifies its “Skechers Kids” line as including the Mega Flex line, which it described as “a line of athletic sneakers for boys based on a robot character. Styles include fun embellishments like heel springs or an articulated bladed outsole in the Mega Blades collection.” Skechers Form 10-K further states that its “Kids lines are comprised primarily of shoes that are designed as ‘takedowns’ of their adult counterparts, allowing the younger consumers the opportunity to wear the same popular styles as their older siblings and schoolmates. This ‘takedown’ strategy maintains the product’s integrity by offering premium leathers, hardware and outsoles without the costs involved in designing and developing new products.”
Skechers, however, has no adult line that correlates to the Mega Flex or Mega Blades collection and, instead, has developed and marketed the Mega Flex or Mega Blade shoes as “takedowns” that copy adidas’s Springblade technology without Skechers having to incur the concomitant research and development costs.
Adidas would not sue unless Skechers was selling a lot of sneakers.
What Skechers is doing is not necessarily unlawful or actionable. The treble damage argument may even be more specious.
I defend against. BS complaints all the time. I say what we want, how we will prove it, and then prove it as we say we will. What so often happens is one side with much vitriol will lay out a complaint focused on fiction and hope.
Don’t read too much into their complaint. The proof is on the pudding and details, and fine lines of the law.
Don’t confuse Trademark law with Patent law. Despite what the article you reference says about patents not applying to sneakers, Adidas has a couple of patents on the design. So, it’s more than just that the sneaker looks like Adidas sneaker, it’s that there’s a functional patent being violated.
I’m not a lawyer, but this case seems different to me.
Patents on the design? Good luck. Patents on function, perhaps. But these are children’s shoes. Children do not need, not demand such functionality. Back way when when the Earth was still new and Adam had barely bit from the apple (early 90s) I sold sorta shoes. Even at $120 a pop, the children’s air Jordan’s were not functionally the same as the adult. No child needed all that functionality. All they wanted was the emotion that they had it. I could never talk the parent out of wasting such money for something that provided much more functional “value” vs the emotion of it all.
Not to worried about “design” patents. If Skechers violated functional patents for a children’s shoe they deserve to lose.
Either way, cost of doing business. This is not Rambus or Qualcomm or Gemstar with business critical patents and life and death litigation.
In 2015 Adidas filed suit against Skechers for a Stan Smith knock-off. The judged ruled for Adidas because he could not tell the difference and, therefore, noted “consumer confusion” as an issue, which Skechers must have known considering that they were using “stan smith” on that product’s web page. Skechers was ordered to stop making/selling the shoe. Skechers is appealing, but noted that the sales for this shoe were “insignificant.”
Sneaker wars have been going on for years. Nike is suing Skechers over their Flynit style. It seems that most think that knocking off popular designs is part of Skechers MO. Often the trend is over by the time the lawsuit ends. Until Skechers gets it hard with damages, rather than just the cease selling, I think it’ll be a continuing thing.
Almost two years ago, Converse sued Skechers in federal district court and at the International Trade Commission, saying Skechers’ Twinkle Toes and BOBS shoes infringed on its Chuck Taylor trademark. Although Skechers set aside about $6 million in the event the case went against it, after a trial in August, an administrative judge ruled in November that Nike’s case was almost completely without merit.
The judge held the Skechers’ shoes didn’t infringe Converse’s trademarks for the Chuck Taylor midsole because:
Both of Skechers brands feature prominent design features that “cannot be said to be similar to [the Chuck Taylor shoes].”
There was no likelihood consumers would confuse the Skechers Twinkle Toes or BOBS for Chuck Taylors.
Converse has no common law trademark rights in the Chuck Taylor midsole because the design is not distinctive, not famous, and has failed to acquire secondary meaning.
All of those portions of the ruling were affirmed by the ITC. But where the administrative judge had thrown Nike a bone by saying Converse’s registered trademark for the Chuck Taylor design was valid, the ITC overturned that too, and invalidated both Converse’s registered trademark and its common law trademark.
From article on the Converse/Nike suit that Sketchers won recently:
"Lawsuits are part and parcel of doing business in the footwear industry, and Skechers has been on both sides of such fights. Earlier this year, Nike sued Skechers on a different matter, saying Skechers had infringed on eight different Nike design patents that were issued to it over the last two years; and a few months before that, Skechers was sued by Adidas for allegedly selling knock-offs of its designs, including its popular Stan Smith model. Conversely, Skechers sued Steve Madden last year, seeking an injunction against its Setta line, which was sold under the Steven by Steve Madden brand.
No doubt there are only just so many ways to make a shoe, and unless there’s something truly unique about a design, it seems the courts will not uphold the allegations of infringement.
Read more: Skechers Wins a Decisive ITC Ruling Over Nike | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/062816/skechers-w…
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I don’t do trademark or patent, but protection from these only go so far as they are in restraint of trade. You can legally reverse engineer a patent for example (probably more involved process than Skechers would want to try), and there are exacting requirements for things like Trademarks.
This lawsuit will take years, and as cautiousone specifies, the trend for the shoe will probably end by the time the suit is done.
If Skechers tries to copy Air Jordans or what not, then I’d be worried as those are flagship products with huge damage potential, but these tertiary models are a few million here, a few million there for a billion dollar corporation.
The details of the lawsuit are not knowable by us as that is why they hire expensive lawyers with huge staffs to litigate such things. For every allegation, there is a defense, a nuance, a detail, etc. I know the law as well as anyone, and I have given up predicting lawsuits like this. Even in my own cases I have had 3 appeals to my states Supreme Court this year, winning all 3 because I know what the law is, but the trial judge appeared to not know what the law was. Did not stop the trial judge from ruling wrong anyways at trial.
OT…Just to add a bit more interesting info. Converse originally sued 31 companies in the Chuck Taylor knock-off suit. Some designs were a real stretch, IMO - Bobs vs Chuck Taylor??? Some just voluntarily pulled their shoe off the market. New Balance, which owns PF Flyers, was not one of the original 31, but Converse threatened to add them to the suit. They filed against Converse saying they are infringing them.
Skechers was up about 4.5% on the day the news came out. It seems like a run of the mill patent suit, not terribly dangerous. It’s even possible that Adidas’s patent on “leaf springs” will get thrown out because of the vast amount of prior art in the auto industry.
Patents on the design? Good luck. Patents on function, perhaps.
I don’t see it as a design patent. The patent points out functional problems with previous technology upon which the new design improves:
The lifetime of midsoles made from foamed materials, however, is rather limited. Irreversible degradations of the foamed materials under repeated compression and shearing loads on the sole are the reason that initially good cushioning properties are quickly lost. As a result, the sport shoe is “worn-out” and no longer meets the requirements of cushioning and biomechanically supporting the foot.
Furthermore, the dynamic properties of the foamed materials are strongly temperature dependent, which causes problems, in particular for sports (e.g., running) performed outdoors in cold weather, as the foamed material becomes hard, thus diminishing its cushioning properties. A further disadvantage of the use of foamed materials is the limited possibilities to adapt the cushioning properties to the size of a shoe and the expected weight of the wearer. Also, at smaller shoe sizes the surface portion of the foamed material is larger in relation to the volume, thus leading to lower temperatures of the foamed material (i.e., an undesirable hardness) when subjected to low-temperature environments.
Embodiments of the present invention are therefore based on the problem of providing a sole construction that can be easily manufactured, that uses minimal foamed materials, and that can be economically manufactured in order to at least partly overcome the above-mentioned disadvantages of the art.
Leaf spring elements in a shoe sole can provide cushioning properties that have minimal disadvantages compared to the use of foamed materials.
Nonetheless, the stock price has continued to rise, so apparently Wall St. doesn’t think much of the lawsuit, at least in the short term.