New Balance Is Suing Golden Goose for Allegedly Copying Its 990 Sneaker Model

New Balance is taking action against Golden Goose’s U.S. subsidiary for allegedly selling “knock-offs” of one of its most popular sneaker styles.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, New Balance is claiming that Golden Goose’s “Dad-Star” sneaker, which the Italian-based label began selling in 2021 for $625, is a “confusingly similar design” to the New England shoe company’s 990 model, first launched in 1982 and currently retails for $199.

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“Golden Goose’s sale of the ‘Dad-Star’ model is intended to capitalize on and free-ride off of the success that New Balance has achieved with its 990 model shoe and its brand,” the complaint stated.

New Balance further illustrated in its Aug. 18 complaint that Golden Goose’s choice of using the name “Dad-Star” allegedly creates “confusion” in the marketplace.

“Golden Goose deliberately chose the name ‘Dad-Star’ to create an association between its products and New Balance as source in the minds of consumers,” the complaint said. “New Balance is well-known as the ‘dad shoe’ brand and fosters an association with the term. Within the New Balance model family, the 990 is known to consumers as the ‘original’ dad shoe.”

What’s more, the use of the color grey is also a point of contention in the case, with New Balance claiming that Golden Goose “prominently used shades of grey” in its alleged infringing shoe model, which “increases the likelihood” of confusion.

“New Balance and the 990 model are famously associated with the color grey,” the suit added. “Approximately one third of all shoes sold by New Balance are in grey colorways. This represents many millions of pairs of shoes and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.”

To prove its point further, New Balance alleges in the lawsuit that Golden Goose’s business strategy is to “identify popular and innovative shoe designs and copy them to capitalize on the creativity of other shoe brands.” In its complaint, the Boston-based footwear company cited the “numerous shoe models” on Golden Goose’s e-commerce site that allegedly imitates other brands, and further called the Italian company a “serial copyist.”

“According to ‘A History of Luxury Sneaker Copycats,’ Golden Goose’s whole thing seems to be grabbing vintage trainers, covering them with top notch materials, and then thrashing them to achieve their ‘stylishly distressed look,” New Balance stated in the complaint.

With this claim, New Balance is seeking the court to stop Golden Goose from selling its “Dad-Star” sneakers and to have all remaining inventory recalled to be destroyed. New Balance is also asking the court to award it with Golden Goose’s profits from the alleged infringed style, damages, and attorneys’ fees.

“New Balance Athletics, Inc. is recognized as one of the top athletic brands in the world and we go to great lengths to protect our intellectual property,” a New Balance representative said in a comment sent to FN. “While New Balance respects industry competition, Golden Goose’s Dad-Star shoe infringes New Balance’s intellectual property rights in the iconic 990 shoe design, one of our most popular and best-selling models. As a result of this infringement by Golden Goose, New Balance has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts to protect the distinctive trade dress of our 990 shoe.”

Golden Goose has not yet responded to a request for comment.

This complaint marks New Balance’s latest efforts to protect its trademarks. In December, New Balance settled a dispute with Steve Madden, after claiming in a June 2022 lawsuit that Madden “deliberately copied” its 327 sneaker model with the launch of the fashion brand’s “Chasen” shoe. No details of the settlement were released.

In July 2022, New Balance reached a similar settlement regarding its lawsuit against Michael Kors. First filed in Aug. 2021, the footwear company alleged that the designer brand infringed on its “N” mark that were prominently featured on Kors’ Pippin and Olympia sneaker styles.

And, in March 2022, Balance Athletica, a Denver-based athleisure brand, officially changed its name to Vitality following a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by New Balance in 2020.

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