A German court has sided with Puma in its ongoing between much larger rival Adidas, another German brand. Adidas filed suit against Puma in an attempt to prevent it from selling a new range of footwear that contain light-weight, bouncy soles, which adidas claims are similar to its popular "Boost" technology.
As noted by Reuters, "The sporting goods industry has seen a big rise in patent disputes in recent years as the biggest players try to differentiate their products with features aimed at improving sporting performance rather than just looking good at the gym."
Turns out, both Adidas and Puma - which maintain a longstanding rivalry that dates back to their foundation in the late 1940s after a falling out between brothers Adi and Rudi Dassler - worked with German chemicals firm BASF to create a new foam polyurethane for their springy and cushion-like shoe soles, ideal for running.
Per Reuters, "BASF struck an exclusive deal with Adidas on the technology in 2011, allowing the bigger company to launch its new line of 'Boost' shoes in 2013. It sold 10 million pairs in the running category alone in 2015. That forced Puma to look for a new partner for the foam and it teamed up with U.S. company Huntsman Corp in 2014, launching its 'NRGY' line last year. The shoes sell for about $100 and upwards a pair, still well below the price for most 'Boost' ranges."
As such, the parties have been in and out of court over the past year or so, with adidas demanding that Puma cease all sales of its "NRGY" collection. The most recent ruling proves a blow for adidas.
"Puma tried to show Adidas with this case that even though we are smaller, we will not give in that easily. We will fight for our rights," Neil Narriman, Puma head of intellectual property, told Reuters. Narriman said Puma had held back from launching many versions of "NRGY" due to the case but would now promote the rival to "Boost" more aggressively.
An Adidas spokeswoman said the firm did not agree with the court decision and would review its next steps. "We will continue to vigorously protect our rights and will continue to take action in case of infringements," she told Reuters.