Vibram S.p.A. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Vibram USA Inc. are suing Fila USA Inc. for patent infringement.
The maker of the popular FiveFingers branded shoes, which have helped to fuel the barefoot running trend, is alleging Fila’s Skele-Toes footwear infringes on three U.S. patents Vibram holds.
The patents pertain to a variety of footwear designs comprising individual toe pockets, the main one being U.S. Patent No. 7,805,860 titled “Footwear Having Independently Articulable Toe Portions,” which was issued on Oct. 5, 2010, Vibram said.
Vibram’s complaint, filed July 6, 2011, in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, said, “Prior to Vibram’s invention … a need existed for footwear shaped to the natural contour of the feet and which allows independent intrinsic movement of the feet, and particularly the toes, in order to enhance performance of the foot … Vibram has filled that need with its novel and inventive footwear.”
“Vibram pioneered the minimalist footwear category … innovated the technology and earned the patents,” said Tony Post, Vibram USA’s president, in a statement on Monday. “With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe our intellectual property. These infringements are not only damaging to Vibram, they also hurt our retail partners and the public trust.”
Vibram alleges Fila’s launch of its Skele-Toes products “was objectively reckless because Fila knew its products infringed the Vibram patents.”
When contacted, a spokesman for Fila said, “Fila launched this line in February 2011 after determining that these patents were not infringed. Fila also has reviewed the allegations in Vibram’s complaint and has determined that they are without merit. Fila intends to vigorously defend itself against these claims.”
Vibram seeks damages as compensation and a court injunction prohibiting further sale of Fila’s products.