The Lontex Corp., makers of Sweat It Out athletic apparel, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nike on the last day of the year, alleging that it knowingly violated a trademark registered by the Pennsylvania-based organization.
The Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania will hear the case, which began with the submission of a 21-page complaint from Lontex’s legal team. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Nike “adopted continued use of the infringing marks despite knowing Lontex had incontestable, federal trademark registrations” and sold those products through distributors and its own channels.
Calling Nike’s products “counterfeits,” the suit alleges that the company has made “well over $40 million” using Lontex trademarks, and the organization is now seeking restitution.
The infringement surrounds Lontex’s “Cool Compression” trademark, which protects sportswear apparel and accessories using the mark, along with a corresponding logo. Lontex claims the name is well known among consumers of compression products, which include compression shorts, shirts, socks and tights, and that it has a developed a reputation in the medical and sports fields for utilizing “high percentages of Lycra fiber in the west and warp directions” to create a better compression product.
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Nike’s product, on the other hand, is “confusingly similar” and inferior to its own products, Lontex said. The complaint went so far as to say Lontex had begun receiving reports from its professional sports team clients that Nike’s products were “substantially inferior in performance,” compared to its own.
The alleged infringing products in the “Nike Pro” line are, in fact, advertised by Nike and its distributors using the “cool compression” phrase. Lontex lawyers said there are references to infringing products dating back to October 2015 and provided examples of infringement via Nike’s own catalogues from the era.
A cursory search of Nike’s website yielded no “Cool Compression” infringements at publication time, however, Amazon, one of the distributors named in the suit, continues to sell products marketed as “Nike Pro Cool Compression” products.
Lontex sent Nike a demand letter before filing the suit, according to court documents, and Nike responded by saying it would cease the use of the phrase. However, the complaint alleges that the trademark infringement continued afterward, despite the agreement. This resulted in “irreparable harm and damages,” including “necessary corrective advertising, lost sales, tarnishment and loss of brand control,” according to court documents.
As a result, Lontex filed the complaint alleging four counts of infringement and requesting a jury trial. Its lawyers have asked the court for a permanent injunction against Nike for trademark infringement and unfair business practices, along with damages to be determined by the trial. Additionally, Lontex is asking for a trebling of the damages against Nike based on its “willful infringement.”
Neither Nike nor Lontex immediately responded to requests for comment.
Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine, Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.