Nike and Skechers are facing off over footwear … again. This time, instead of calling foul on Skechers for allegedly knocking off its knitted Flyknit sneakers, and thereby, infringing 8 of its patents that protect those technology-driven shoes, Nike has taken issue with Skechers’ continued practice of manufacturing “Skecherized versions” of Nike sneakers, including blatant replicas of its VaporMax and Air Max 270 designs, and has filed a patent infringement suit as a result.
According to its 37-page complaint, which was filed on September 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Nike alleges that while it has built a reputation for being “the world’s leading designer, marketer, and distributor of athletic footwear,” Skechers has done no such thing. “Instead of innovating its own designs and technologies,” Nike accuses Skechers of maintaining a “business strategy that includes copying its competitors’ designs to gain market share,” as driven by Skechers CEO, Robert Greenberg, who simply “gives orders to knock-off competitors’ [successful] products.”
Despite previously taking action against Southern California-based Skechers over copycat footwear, “Skechers continues to copy Nike’s designs,” the Portland-based sportswear giant claims in its newly-filed suit. This time around, Nike alleges that Skechers is copying its VaporMax designs and Air Max 270 designs – which are “associated with footwear with Air sole units” – and thus, it has little choice but to “continue to defend its design innovation and stop Skechers from free-riding on [its] significant investment of talent and resources that are deployed to innovate.”
Nike claims that in selling its Skech-Air Atlas, Skech-Air 92, Skech-Air Stratus, and the Skech-Air Blast models, among others, Skechers has “made, used, offered for sale, sold, and/or imported into the United States” shoes having designs that share “the same overall appearance of the claimed designs of [its] VaporMax patents” and its Air Max 270 patents, as well. The aforementioned Skechers sneakers “are substantially the same” as Nike’s patent-protected sneakers, the footwear titan asserts, so much so that “an ordinary observer will perceive the overall appearance of the claimed designs of the VaporMax [and the Air Max 270] patents and the corresponding designs of the [Skechers] shoes” to be virtually the same.
As such, Nike claims that Skechers is running afoul of at least 12 of its U.S. design patents covering its VaporMax and its Air Max 270 models in a “willful, intentional, and deliberate” manner, since “at least as of the filing date of this complaint, Skechers knew or should have known that continuing to make, use, offer to sell, sell, and/or import the [shoes at issue] into the United States would directly infringe Nike’s patents, yet Skechers infringed and continues to infringe [them],” Nike asserts.
In furtherance of its patent infringement claims, Nike is seeking relief in the form of a permanent injunction, an ordering requiring Skechers to pay Nike damages to compensate for its infringement, including the total profits made as a result of such infringement.
*The case is Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 2:19-cv-08418 (C.D. Cal.) .