This week marks the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Killing 1,134 people and injuring over 2,000 others, the collapse of the eight-story building, which housed five garment factories supplying global brands, is one of the worst industrial accidents to date. The rights and safety of workers are in greater focus now than arguably ever before, but progress in fixing problems in the supply chain is slow, experts and activists say. Real change will likely result only from a systemic overhaul of the fast fashion industry and in the mentality of mass-market shoppers, which has yet to be attempted.
Aside from the observance of the annual Fashion Revolution Week, this week brought a number of developments in terms of litigation involving the market’s biggest sportswear companies.
1. On the heels of filing trademark infringement lawsuits against brands like Marc Jacobs, Forever 21, APL, and Skechers over the past year, adidas has continued its fight against what it alleges is a massive scheme involving its famous three-stripe mark. This time adidas filed an interesting (and arguably meritless) suit against fellow footwear brand, ECCO.
2. Adidas has been handed a victory this week in a multi-million dollar trademark and patent infringement lawsuit in connection with its Springblade running shoes. Robert M. Lyden, an Oregon-based athlete and inventor, who has been on a bit of a suing spree with the market’s largest sportswear makers, filed suit against adidas in October 2014, alleging that the German sportswear giant infringed a number of his federally protected intellectual property rights, including two trademarks and three patents for an original running shoe design. The shoe at issue: a so-called Springshoe.
3. In a less successful bid, a German court rejected an attempt by adidas to stop its Kering-owned rival Puma from selling a new line of shoes with “light-weight, bouncy soles” similar to its popular "Boost" range. The two sportswear companies have a fierce rivalry that dates back to their individual foundings in the late 1940s after a falling out between the brands’ respective owners, brothers Adi and Rudi Dassler.
4. Adidas is also likely to hunt down a number of other copyists, whose fake Yeezy Boost sneakers - a collaboration between the brand and rapper Kanye West - are being promoted on Instagram. As for the social media platform, it could potentially be liable, as well
5. As for Nike, the Portland-based giant has been named in a $5 million potential class action lawsuit, charging it with using misleading price tags at its outlet stores in an attempt to confuse consumers as to the original price of the goods. Filed against the American sportswear giant on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, a federal court in Portland, by Monika Taylor, the lawsuit alleges that Nike “misrepresented the existence, nature and amount of price discounts on products sold in Nike Outlet stores by purporting to offer discounts off of a false ‘Suggested Retail Price,’ which the Plaintiff understood to be short for the commonly used retail phrase: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.”
6. And according to a recently-released report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, not only is the trade of counterfeited and pirated goods up in recent years – accounting for 2.5 percent of world trade (or as much as $461 billion) – Nike is the most heavily targeted brand in the world when it comes to counterfeits.