Two Shoe Companies Are in a Legal Battle Over Ballet Flats

Someone could get caught flat-footed.

Women’s sustainable footwear maker Rothy’s Inc. is suing OESH Shoes, an eco-friendly women’s comfort shoe brand founded by Dr. Casey Kerrigan.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Rothy’s alleged that JKM Technologies — doing business as OESH Shoes —engaged in trade dress infringement and unfair competition when it sought to market a ballet-style shoe it dubbed “The Dream Flat” this summer. Specifically, Rothy’s claims “The Dream Flat” infringes on three of its design patents related to a pair of its own shoes, which it calls “The Flat.”

“On information and belief, on or about June 2018, [OESH Shoes and Kerrigan] began marketing, manufacturing and offering for sale a product … with a shape, design and look that is virtually identical to Rothy’s ‘The Flat’ product,” the Aug. 16 lawsuit stated.

rothys sues oesh shoes
An exhibit filed in the Rothys v. JKM Technologies LLC lawsuit.
CREDIT: U.S. District Court/Western Virginia

Rothy’s further alleges that on March 20, Kerrigan’s company, or someone acting on its behalf, purchased Rothy’s “The Flat” product and had it shipped to its headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., and proceeded to review, research and copy the design.

“The similarity between the two products is so striking that consumers seeing ‘The Dream Flat’ product have been and will continue to be confused into thinking [it] was related to the Rothy’s ‘The Flat’ product,” the suit stated.

In an interview with FN about OESH’s launch this year, Harvard-educated Kerrigan, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, said she designed her line — priced in the $110-to-$150 price range — based on two decades of analyzing women’s physiology. (As it stands, on OESH’s e-commerce site, two styles — a sneaker and sport sandal — are available for purchase. ‘The Dream Flat’ — the subject of Rothy’s litigation — appears only to be available for pre-order.)

Rothy’s shoes range in price from $125 to $165 and were first released in 2015.

Rothy’s is seeking monetary damages, including OESH’s profits on the allegedly infringing product, as well as a court order mandating OESH to destroy the flats in question.

At press time, neither Rothy’s nor OESH had responded to FN’s request for comment.

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