Nike Inc. and Skechers USA Inc. are at it again.
The Oregon-based sportswear giant has filed suit against the casual sneaker-maker on Monday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that it had made “Skecherized versions” of its sneakers — particularly its popular Air Max 270 and VaporMax designs.
In its patent infringement complaint, Nike claimed that the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company’s purported copying strategy — described in the lawsuit as “Skecherizing,” or taking “inspiration from competitor products” — is spearheaded by Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg in an attempt to gain market share. It claimed the allegedly infringing shoes were Skechers’ Skech-Air Atlas and Skech-Air 92 as well as the Skech-Air Stratus and Skech-Air Blast.
Nike alleged that Skechers attempted to imitate its VaporMax design, which debuted in 2017, and the Air Max 270, introduced in 2018. Both sneakers, according to Nike, feature its proprietary Air sole units that have been used in its shoes starting with the Air Max 1 in 1987. (The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the VaporMax patents on June 4 and the Air Max 270 patents on the separate dates of Sept. 10 and 24.)
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“Nike filed this lawsuit to continue to defend its design innovation and stop Skechers from free-riding on Nike’s significant investment of talent and resources that are deployed to innovate,” Nike wrote in the suit.
It seeks damages as well as a permanent injunction from the court for the allegedly offending designs.
The development marks the latest in a series of legal actions the athletic behemoth has taken against Skechers. In 2014, as part of a sweeping lawsuit, Nike subsidiary Converse Inc. sued Skechers and 25-plus other fashion firms for allegedly copying certain design elements of its Chuck Taylor All Star shoes. Another lawsuit, which is currently pending in court, saw Nike accuse Skechers of ripping off its Free and Flyknit designs in 2016.
Nike did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment, while a Skechers spokesperson said that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Skechers and Nike Have Actually Been Going at It for Years