Adidas is on a bit of a litigation spree. Since filing trademark infringement lawsuits against Marc Jacobs and more recently Forever 21, the American arm of the German sportswear giant has also filed suit against Skechers. Adidas America alleges in its complaint, which was filed early this week in federal court in Oregon, the footwear brand is selling several “knock-offs” of Adidas designs, including but not limited to one that is a bit too similar to its classic Stan Smith. Both Adidas’s Stan Smith (below, left) and Skeckers Onix style (below, right) are constructed of white leather with perforations along the side and a green accent on the heel and tongue.
According to a statement from the German brand early this week: “Adidas filed (the) lawsuit today against Skechers to protect its valuable intellectual property and to put an end to a long-term pattern of unlawful conduct by Skechers to sell shoes that infringe Adidas’ rights. We believe Skechers’ unlawful behavior, which also includes misappropriation of Adidas’ Supernova and three-stripe trademark, needs to stop now.” In addition to a jury trial, Adidas is asking the court for a permanent injunction (an order forbidding Skechers from selling and/or marketing the infringing styles), an array of damages (including any profits Skechers made from the sale of the allegedly infringing styles) and attorneys’ fees.
For the legally curious, according to the Adidas America v. Payless Shoes case, which was decided in 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, the Stan Smith trade dress clearly includes the “colored portion on the outer back heel that identifies the shoes as Adidas’ brand; a perforated body; and a particularly flat sole, among other elements. These are all present in the Skechers shoe.
The question is now: Will either Isabel Marant or Alexander McQueen be served with a lawsuit from Adidas next? You may recall that both high fashion brands have introduced footwear with elements of Adidas’s Stan Smith trade dress; most notably, colored heel tabs. Since Adidas appears to only just be getting started in protecting its valuable intellectual property, it will be interesting to see what other high fashion brands it chooses to target.
UPDATE (MAY 31, 2018): Just ahead of the scheduled trial, the parties managed to settle the case out of court. The settlement arrived after Adidas’ attorneys filed an emergency motion for contempt sanctions. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.