Adidas, the German sporting goods company, recently sued Skechers USA Inc. for trademark infringement involving sneaker designs. Adidas claims that the lawsuit is based on a long history of alleged infringement by Skechers of Adidas shoe trademarks.
Adidas claims the dispute began when Skechers sold shoes bearing parallel stripes on the sides of the shoes in 1994. Adidas alleges those stripes infringed its trademarks. Adidas has designs bearing three parallel strips while Skechers sold designs having two or four stripes. The suit was settled in 1995.
The latest action accuses Skechers of selling athletic shoes that infringe the Adidas “Supernova” trademarks and the trade dress of its Stan Smith shoes. In its pleadings, Adidas accuses Skechers of selling shoes under the “SuperNova” mark as well as selling shoes bearing a three parallel stripe pattern on the side.
What’s the take away here? Adidas has done a good job of enforcing its marks and its trade dress. Any product or service has the capacity to develop goodwill through brand awareness and enforcement. Like Adidas, cornering the market on a style, word or symbol makes great business sense.
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