Shoe Wars

Why Do Shoe Companies Keep Suing Each Other?

Especially Adidas.

By Marty Patail September 13, 2016 Published in the October 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Michael Novak

This past summer, Adidas filed a complaint in a Portland court against competitor Skechers, alleging similarities between the former’s Springblade design and the latter’s Mega Blade line (being crushed above). Shoe patent law is notoriously muddy, and violators often are fined rather than forced to stop selling the offending products. That hasn’t stopped Adidas—or any other player in the intensely competitive industry—from lawyering up whenever possible. In this case, Adidas even wades into the scorched earth of YouTube commentary for evidence: “As reflected in exhibit F, the YouTube video defendant offered on its Mega Blade product generated multiple comments, reflecting public perception that defendant had copied Adidas,” a Perkins Coie lawyer wrote in the complaint. 

Adidas’s Recent Litigious Jousts

December 2011: Adidas sues Preschoolians for its three-stripe kid shoes. WINNER: Dismissed

October 2012: Nike sues Adidas over its high-fashion, knit-top Flyknit patent. WINNER: Adidas

November 2013: Walmart shoe provider Elan Polo sues Adidas for its three-stripe design. WINNER: Dismissed

October 2014: Nike designer Robert M. Lyden sues Adidas for copying his 2002 Springshoe for its 2013 Springblade. WINNER: Adidas

September 2015: Adidas sues Skechers for copying its classic 1973 “Stan Smith” design for its Onix shoes. WINNER: Adidas

November 2015: Adidas sues TRB, a New York –based holding company, for selling shoes and apparel with Adidas’s three stripes at TJ Maxx. WINNER: TBD

March 2016: Adidas sues APL, a California-based discount shoe company, for selling “confusingly similar” shoes with a four- stripe design. WINNER: TBD

April 2016: Adidas sues Ecco for using three and four parallel stripes on its shoes. WINNER: TBD

June 2016: Adidas sues Puma for copying its spongy Boost sole material, which Puma calls “nrgy.” WINNER: Puma

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