Skechers USA Inc. management scored a victory after an Oregon district court this week handed down two rulings in the brand’s favor in a patent infringement suit filed against the company by Adidas America Inc. last year.
In July 2016, Adidas filed suit against Skechers alleging that the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based brand copied its Springblade technology — introduced in June 2013 — to create a similar technology, the Mega Flex.
In court documents last year, Adidas said that the Skechers’ Mega Flex, including the Mega Blade 2.0 and 3.0 shoes, infringed on two patents for its Springblade technology. Adidas’s filing further cited “public reports” that allegedly show “that the industry and consumers recognize that [Skechers] copied the design and features of Adidas’s Springblade shoes.”
This week, district judge Michael Simon dismissed Adidas’ willful infringement allegations and also denied the brand’s request for a preliminary injunction, which sought to prevent Skechers from continuing to distribute the shoes in question.
“The court’s ruling inherently recognizes the weak and speculative nature of Adidas’ allegations against Skechers,” Skechers president Michael Greenberg said in a release today. “As owners of a vast worldwide portfolio of trademarks, patents and copyrights, Skechers respects the intellectual property rights of other companies and has invested tremendous resources into building a brand identity by developing its own distinctive designs, not by copying others. We are pleased with both of the court’s rulings.”
Specifically, regarding Adidas’ assertion that Skechers’ willfully infringed on its patented technology, the court said “[Adidas] plead no facts from which the court may draw the reasonable inference that [Skechers] knew of the patents-in-suit either when they issued or any time before [Adidas] filed this lawsuit … Thus [Adidas’s] allegations are insufficient to state a claim for willful infringement based on [Skechers’] conduct before the lawsuit was filed.”
In denying Adidas’ motion for preliminary injunction, the court said that “the evidence presented by Adidas fails to make a persuasive showing that the Mega Blade shoe has had an appreciable adverse effect on the Springblade shoe.” And, that Adidas’s argument that “the presence of the Mega Blade shoe in the marketplace may adversely affect Adidas’s efforts to ‘reintroduce’ the Springblade shoe many years in the future as an Adidas Original” is “simply too speculative.”
The court further concluded that the Adidas and Skechers “do not directly compete for the sale of bladed shoes other than in the narrow range of overlapping sizes.”
In an emailed statement to Footwear News today, Adidas said that it was disappointed in the ruling.
“It’s disappointing the court did not grant the preliminary injunction and that competitors can continue to sell copies of our technology,” the company said. “We remain confident we will prevail once the court has heard all of the evidence regarding Skechers’ pattern of unlawful behavior.”
Adidas also filed complaint against Skechers in September 2015 alleging that the brand infringed on its iconic Stan Smith sneaker, its three-stripe mark and its “Supernova” trademark. In February 2016, Adidas obtained a preliminary injunction prohibiting Skechers from selling two already-discontinued styles of shoes and from using the word “Supernova” in connection with a third discontinued style. A trial is set for April 2018, according to court records.