California residents who follow business news may be aware that Adidas and Skechers have been embroiled in disputes over sneaker designs for more than two decades. Adidas filed a lawsuit in September 2015 alleging that the Onix sneaker made by Skechers was a virtual copy of its iconic Stan Smith shoe, and the German company’s arguments were convincing enough to persuade a judge to prohibit Skechers from selling athletic footwear featuring a three-stripe design or the Supernova name.
Adidas prevailed in court again in August 2017 when its attorneys provided evidence showing that Skechers intentionally copied the Stan Smith design. The court then dismissed Skechers’ motion for summary judgment. Many legal experts were unsurprised by the ruling because Adidas has used its three-stripe design on footwear, apparel and accessories for decades. The court was convinced that the mark has become synonymous with the Adidas brand around the world and its use by other manufacturers would confuse consumers.
Skechers faced the prospect of more long days in court when Adidas filed a contempt motion after learning about another sneaker style fundamentally similar to the Stan Smith design. However, media accounts indicate that further legal confrontations are unlikely because the two companies have reached a settlement. While the terms of the settlement remain confidential, reports do reveal that both companies will drop all of their claims and counterclaims and pay their own legal costs.
Cases involving intellectual property are often settled because litigating them can be ruinously expensive. However, attorneys with business litigation experience may suggest taking vigorous action when infringement could cause significant damage to brands. Attorneys could also help to ensure that valuable intellectual property like logos, taglines and formulas are properly protected by copyrights, trademarks and patents.