Nike and Skechers Settle Three Patent Suits

Nike Inc. and Skechers USA Inc. have reached a deal to end three lawsuits in the Central District of California in their long-running battle over intellectual property.

According to filings on Friday, the two companies attended a mediation before Judge James Holderman on Nov. 16 where the parties agreed to settlement terms. Once the agreement is finalized, the parties will file to dismiss the suits.

This agreement marks an end to some years-long court battles between the two shoe brands over claims of trademark infringement on the part of Skechers. The dispute began in January 2016, when Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike sued Manhattan, California-based Skechers, claiming that several of its sneakers — including the Skechers’ Burst, Women’s Flex Appeal, Men’s Flex Advantage, Girl’s Skech Appeal, and Boy’s Flex Advantage shoes — contained design elements that infringed on multiple Nike-owned patents.

Skechers responded that year by petitioning the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board to review the patentability of several Nike designs, arguing that all eight patents Nike sought to protect in its case were invalid. In its decisions throughout 2016, PTAB denied all of Skechers’ requests to review the patentability (or inter partes review) of those eight patents.

In September 2019, Nike filed another lawsuit against Skechers, which claimed that the company had made “Skecherized versions” of its sneakers — particularly Nike’s popular Air Max 270 and VaporMax designs. Nike claimed in this case that Skechers was involved in a blatant copying strategy that was described as “Skecherizing,” or taking “inspiration from competitor products”. The filing also accused Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg of spearheading this initiative in an attempt to gain market share.

And just a month later in October 2019, Nike followed up with another lawsuit against Skechers which alleged that two pairs of Skechers sneakers — the Skech-Air Jumpin’ Dots and Mega shoes — “infringed on certain utility patents pertaining to Nike’s Air and footwear cushioning technologies” that feature “a fluid-filled bladder” and “a plurality of foam beads” filling the cavity of the shoes.

Nike did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment. A Skechers spokesperson declined to comment.

Skechers is no stranger to trademark suits. Over the years, the footwear brand has found itself on the receiving end of a number of claims from several big brands. In 2019, Easy Spirit filed a lawsuit claiming that Skechers’ Commute Time shoes infringe its Traveltime trademark. The court eventually ruled against Easy Spirit on the actual confusion factor due to its lack of survey evidence. In 2018, Skechers settled a lawsuit brought against it by Adidas in September 2015 alleging that Skechers unlawfully infringed on several of its trademarks. And, in October 2014, Skechers was also a party in the sweeping suit filed by Converse against dozens of shoe sellers including New Balance, Fila, Tory Burch, and Walmart.

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