Adidas and Skechers Settle Three-Stripe Copycat Lawsuit

A long-standing sneaker dispute is finally being brought to a close. On Wednesday, Adidas and Skechers USA Inc. settled a lawsuit first brought by the German brand in September 2015, alleging that Skechers unlawfully infringed on several of its trademarks.

While the two companies have engaged in back-and-forth intellectual property disputes for more than 20 years, in this case the intellectual property in question was the iconic Adidas three-stripe design, its Supernova mark and its signature Stan Smith style. Skechers’ Onix sneaker was virtually identical to the latter style, the suit argued, and thus was liable to cause customer confusion.

Adidas landed the first blow in February 2016, when the court granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the sale of two already discontinued designs and barring use of the name Supernova in connection with a third.

In August, Adidas again seemed to have the upper hand, as the court denied Skechers’ motion for summary judgment, citing evidence produced by Adidas that the brand “set out to clone the Stan Smith shoe.”

“The commercial and conceptual strengths of the three-stripe mark are undeniable,” said U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez. “The mark is ubiquitous across Adidas’ various products, and it has very strong global recognition, evidenced by billions of dollars of sales of products bearing the mark.”

While Skechers says it complied with the original injunction, earlier this month, Adidas filed an emergency motion for contempt sanctions when it discovered another pair of sneakers it considered an “imitation of the Stan Smith trade dress.” Skechers, however, argued that it complied with Adidas’ demands to suspend sales and marketing of the style as soon as it was notified. The final flurry of activity ultimately led the two parties to settle out of court, each dismissing all claims and counterclaims and paying its own attorney’s fees and expenses. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

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