All Day I Dream About…Lawsuits? Adidas Sues Skechers Over Shoe Design

Adidas has been at the center of several intellectual property claims the past few years involving its famous three-stripe pattern allegedly being imitated by competing shoe companies. This time, the shoe giant isn’t just alleging that its logo was copied, but rather, an entire shoe design.

Earlier this week, Adidas filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon alleging that Skechers, a direct competitor to Adidas in the shoe industry, deliberately copied an Adidas design from the 1960’s called the “Stan Smith,” which features green markings on a white shoe, with perforations in the shape of its signature three-stripe logo. The Skechers shoe known as the “Onix” also features similar green marking, but the perforations are in a pattern of five lines.

The complaint also alleges that Skechers must have been aware of its infringement on the design, as the words “Stan Smith” were included in the metadata on the webpage from which Skechers sold the shoe. Therefore, whenever a customer searched for “Stan Smith” on Skechers’s site, the search would lead to the Onix shoe. The same search on the site now results in a dead end.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that Skechers has infringed on Adidas’s intellectual property by copying the signature three lines logo on a line of shoes including the “Relaxed Fit Cross Court TR,” as well as trading off of the goodwill of the company by using Adidas’s “Supernova” mark for footwear of the same name.

The essence of the complaint is rooted in federal trademark law. In order to succeed in its claim, Adidas has the burden of proving that Skechers’s use of the trademark design has created a likelihood of confusion about the origin of the product. To do this, Adidas first has to show that it has a protectable trademark right in a trademark. This aspect should be indisputable, as Adidas clearly has trademarked its design and its three-stripe logo. Adidas then has to show that Skechers is using a mark that is confusingly similar to the point of creating a likelihood of confusion, mistake, and/or deception with the consuming public. This confusion can be that Skechers’s products are the same as Adidas’s, or that Skechers’s product is somehow affiliated, connected, approved, or authorized by Adidas.

Skechers has thus far not commented on the pending litigation, but in a statement issued by Adidas on Tuesday, the company said that it “will not stand silently while Skechers copies the iconic Stan Smith shoe and uses terms like ‘adidas Originals’ and ‘Stan Smith’ as keywords on its website to divert customers looking for authentic adidas shoes.”

Resources: (The actual complaint)