Nike sues Skechers in trademark fight

Nike claims sketcher shoe infringed on its Flyknit designs covered by three patents

Attorneys for Nike Inc. say Skechers' Burst shoes infringe on the patents used for Nike's Flyknit shoes and other designs. The Washington County company sued Skechers Monday, Jan. 4, in federal court. (Courtesy, via Portland Tribune)
Attorneys for Nike Inc. say Skechers' Burst shoes infringe on the patents used for Nike's Flyknit shoes and other designs. The Washington County company sued Skechers Monday, Jan. 4, in federal court. (Courtesy, via Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) —Nike is suing Skechers USA for trademark infringement involving designs of the Burst, Flex Appeal and Flex Advantage athletic shoes.

The Washington County company filed its 14-page lawsuit Monday, Jan. 4, in Oregon’s U.S. District Court. Nike claims Skechers used designs that were too similar to Nike’s shoes for the Manhattan Beach, Calif., company’s Burst, Women’s Flex Appeal, Men’s Flex Advantage, Girl’s Skech Appeal and Boy’s Flex Advantage Shoes.

Nike claims the shoes infringed on its Flyknit designs covered by three patents. The company is asking the court to order Skechers to stop making shoes with the infringing designs, and award Nike an unspecified amount of damages, which could include profits from the sale of Skechers’ shoes.

Skechers’ spokeswoman Jennifer Gray said the company does not comment on pending litigation. No court date has been set for the case.

In the complaint, Nike attorneys pointed to a November 2015 story on the www.Complex.com website claiming that Skechers’ Burst shoes “ripped off” Nike designs. The article claims Skechers even used phrases that sounded very similar to marketing to sell adidas’ Boost sneakers.

Converse legal fight

It’s the second time in more than a year that a Nike company has squared off legally against Skechers for patent infringement. In October 2014, Nike-owned Converse sued 31 companies — including Skechers and Wal-Mart — in 22 federal lawsuits and before the International Trade Commission, saying the shoemakers and retailers infringed on the trademark Chuck Taylor style by producing similar-looking knockoff sneakers.

In November 2015, ITC Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles Bullock ruled that some of the shoes made by Skechers and others did not infringe on Converse’s trademark. The judge ruled, however, that Converse’s trademarks were valid and enforceable and blocked any future infringement of those rights.

A statement by Nike said Bullock’s ruling “validated Converse’s intellectual property rights in the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star and supported our right to enforcement.”

Nike also said that the company remained “confident in the merits of our case and that the respondent companies will be held accountable for the knockoffs they produce.”

Publicly traded Skechers told shareholders that the company had set aside about $5.9 million to fight the Converse trademark lawsuit.

Skechers USA is a $2 billion company that makes and markets more than 3,000 styles for men, women and children. Skechers’ shoes are sold through more than 1,200 company-owned stores and other retailers in the United States and in 120 countries.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media affiliate.