Overheard on Wall Street: Adidas Sues Sears; Michael Jordan Loses China Suit

This week in shoe biz, the intellectual-property wars waged on.

Three weeks ago, Skechers USA Inc. announced its patent-infringement suit against Steve Madden Ltd., and last week, Kmart Corp. added its name to the list of companies bowing out of Converse’s broad trademark-infringement case.

The emerging legal trend among footwear companies seems to be: As one trademark suit is settled, another is waiting in the wings for its day in court.

Here, we wrap up this week’s legal entanglements.

Adidas Sues Sears for Trademark Infringement

Adidas is the latest footwear company to claim infringement of its signature designs. The firm filed a suit against Sears Holding Corp. and its subsidiary, Sears Roebuck & Co., alleging trademark infringement of its signature three-stripe design.

In the suit, filed in an Oregon District Court on July 28, Adidas alleges that despite Sears’ knowledge “of Adidas’ rights in the famous Three-Stripe Mark, Sears is designing, sourcing, manufacturing, importing, distributing, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, and/or selling footwear that bears confusingly similar imitations of Adidas’ Three-Stripe Mark.”

Adidas goes on to allege in the court documents, obtained by Footwear News, that Sears’ merchandise is likely to cause consumer confusion, “deceive the public regarding its source, and dilute and tarnish the distinctive quality of Adidas’ Three-Stripe Mark.”

Below are photos of the allegedly infringing shoes that were submitted by Adidas in its court filings.

Shoes that Adidas alleges are produced and/or sold by Sears Holding Corp. that it says infringe on its three-stripe-mark logo.
CREDIT: Oregon District Court Documents


Michael Jordan Loses China Trademark Suit

Former Chicago Bulls star and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has reportedly lost a trademark-infringement suit filed against a Chinese company using a similar name and logo as his Nike-produced Jordan brand on sneakers and sportswear.

According to Reuters, Jordan initially filed the suit in 2012, alleging that Qiaodan Sports created a business model around his Chinese name and used his iconic “23” jersey number without his permission.

Jordan had taken the case to a higher court, Beijing Higher People’s Court, after earlier dismissals in lower China courts. According to reports out of Beijing, this week, he lost there, too.

In addition to using “Qiaodan,” the Chinese version of Jordan’s name, the accused company’s products feature a silhouette of a leaping basketball player that closely resembles the Jordan logo that appears on Nike-produced Brand Jordan products.

Chinese companies have long been the subject of counterfeiting and trademark-infringement allegations by American companies — many of which label the country a haven for counterfeit production and distribution.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association has launched numerous complaints over the last few months against Chinese e-tailing behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. alleging the continuous proliferation of counterfeit goods across its various platforms.


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