Nike has come after more brands for allegedly copying its proprietary footwear technology.
In two separate complaints filed Nov. 6, Nike accused New Balance and Skechers of infringing on its patented Flyknit technology in several of their shoe models. In the complaint filed against Skechers in California, Nike said that Skechers’ Slip-ins, Go Walk and Ultra Flex shoe lines infringe on its Flyknit technology. In its suit filed against New Balance in Massachusetts federal court, Nike said New Balance’s Fresh Foam, FuelCell and other sneaker lines infringe on its patents.
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A Skechers spokesperson on Thursday said in a statement that it plans to “vigorously defend the patent suit” filed by Nike and “expects to completely vindicate itself and is looking forward to its day in court.”
“We believe that this lawsuit is baseless,” a Skechers spokesperson said in a statement. “Many brands have been making shoes using knit uppers for years. Skechers has been designing shoes using various forms of knit uppers for close to a decade. Skechers respects the intellectual property rights of other companies and invests tremendous resources into developing its own unique styles and footwear technology rather than preying on the rights of others.”
The spokesperson added that Skechers sees this lawsuit as “an example of how Nike uses its vast financial resources to stifle competition rather than compete in the marketplace” and said Nike uses its power in the market to “attempt to monopolize the footwear and sports apparel industries through exclusive arrangements, which, as a practical matter, forecloses viable and meaningful competition for high-profile athletic sponsorships.”
In a statement sent to FN, a New Balance representative said that the company “fully respects” competitors’ intellectual property rights. “Nike does not own the exclusive right to design and produce footwear by traditional manufacturing methods that have been used in the industry for decades,” the New Balance rep said. “We will vigorously defend ourselves against Nike’s attempts to enforce its patents beyond their lawful scope.”
Nike did not return FN’s request for a comment.
According to Nike’s website, Flyknit technology “uses high-strength fibers to create lightweight uppers with targeted areas of support, stretch and breathability.” The fabric, made from lightweight, woven yarn strands, is meant to fit like a sock but offer durability and support.
“Due to the success of Nike’s Flyknit, many of Nike’s competitors have copied and made unauthorized use of Nike’s Flyknit technologies,” Nike alleged in both complaints.
These lawsuits mark the Swoosh’s latest legal action when it comes to Flyknit. January, Nike sued Lululemon and claimed that some of the athleisure brand’s new sneakers infringe on its patents related to the technology. Nike has also previously sued Puma and Adidas for infringing on Flyknit patents.
In November of 2021, Nike and Skechers settled three lawsuits in the Central District of California in a long-running battle over intellectual property. The dispute began in January 2016, when Nike sued Skechers and claimed 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.
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