VF Corp.-owned Vans just secured a preliminary win in its lawsuit against Walmart, which alleges that the big-box retailer infringed on its footwear designs.
A federal judge on Thursday blocked Walmart from continuing to sell certain shoes that are “confusingly similar” to Vans’ registered trademarks and protectable trade dress during the duration of the litigation between both parties. The opinion represents the use of a preliminary injunction, which is meant to help prevent a party in a lawsuit from suffering irreparable harm if no injunction is issued during litigation.
In issuing the opinion, a federal judge said that Vans would likely be issued a win in its case against Walmart and that the company would “suffer irreparable harm” without an injunction.
“We are reviewing the order and considering our options,” Walmart said in a statement. “We plan to continue defending the company.”
In a complaint filed in November in a California federal court, Vans claimed that Walmart was selling over 20 shoes that infringed on the skate brand’s property rights. The suit accuses Walmart of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin.
According to the suit, Walmart “flooded the market with cheap, low-quality, and confusingly similar shoes that harm Vans’ goodwill and reputation.” Vans pointed to examples of Walmart sneaker designs that closely resemble products from Vans, including the SK8-HI and Old Skool shoes.
Vans also alleged that Walmart is aware that members of its affiliate program, which pays people to review and advertise products, openly refer to Walmart’s shoes as “dupes” or “knockoffs” of Vans that can be acquired for less money. The products in question sell at Walmart for less than $20.
“The scope of Walmart’s infringement cannot be overstated,” read the suit, which described the situation as “a concerted, systematic, and escalating campaign to rip off Vans’ shoes in broad-brush fashion.”
Vans declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Walmart is also involved in an ongoing legal challenge with Yeezy, which filed a suit against the big-box retailer and other third-party sellers for selling shoes that look like Yeezy foam runners. Walmart also filed a notice of opposition with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, arguing that a registration sought by West’s brand is too similar to its own spark-like logo.
Vans also sued Target in 2018 over alleged trademark infringement. The case was dismissed in 2020.