Image: Nike

Is Nike creating footwear of the future? Try – footware of the future. In addition to debuting a number of “smart” shoes, such as its self-lacing sneakers or the ones that can be tightened or loosened via your smart phone, the Portland-based sportwear giant is working on a clever new branding scheme in which its futuristic offerings will not be called footwear but “footware.”

Late last month, Nike filed an intent-to-use trademark application for registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for the word “footware” – for use in connection with sneaker-specific “computer hardware modules for receiving, processing, and transmitting data in Internet of things electronic devices; electronic devices and computer software that allow users to remotely interact with other smart devices for monitoring and controlling automated systems,” among other hardware and software products and services.

Why not try to nab a registration that extends to class 25 (i.e., the trademark class that covers shoes)? Well that is a registration that not even Nike and its pool of high-powered lawyers could score because the mark would be deemed purely descriptive of the products at play, particularly since an array of parties, including media outlets, use the “footware” spelling to refer to shoes, and thus, not registerable.

According to trademark attorney Josh Gerben, “Essentially, it appears that Nike will start to brand any smart shoes as FOOTWARE as opposed to FOOTWEAR.” Judging by just how famous and powerful its “Just Do It” and swoosh marks are, the new trademark just might catch on, and ultimately, serve to identify Nike’s smart shoes as a whole (and not just their tech components). As for the application, itself, it is currently pending review by the USPTO.

If the company can win over the USPTO on this one (and if the similar proceedings currently underway before the UKIPO are any indication, there’s a chance it will be able to), it might walk away with not just a major win but the beginning of a pretty striking trademark and branding scheme.