A Fashion Law Assault On Adidas

September 2015

Finally, the inevitable has occurred: Stan Smith sneakers at the center of a fashion law case.

A Fashion Law Assault On Adidas: Adidas sues Skechers over fashion law assault

Skechers Onix shoe (left) | Adidas Stan Smith (right)

In April, I predicted that Adidas would have a fashion law case. But instead of taking on earlier copycats, Adidas just filed a fashion law case against Skechers*.

Adidas’s big gripe is that Skechers’s “Onix” shoe caps off years of infringement with an “unabashed assault” on the Adidas’s intellectual property rights.

The Onix sneaker clearly adopted/stole Adidas’s trade dress via copying the overall slim and sleek tennis shoe design, coloring, and perforated leather stripes.

To receive trade dress protection, a design must have secondary meaning. The Stan Smith sneakers have remained popular since their introduction in 1965 and the design is recognizable by consumers.

Metadata manipulation happened here too: Skechers’s website was directing consumers who search for “Adidas STAN SMITH” to the Skechers Onix shoe.

Claiming mere inspiration and no infringement is a lost cause here. Adding the Adidas trademarks into the Skechers website source code shows that Skechers had a bad faith intent.

Is Adidas jealous of Skechers?

Adidas is known for policing its brand. And I think the brand has a solid case here. But I am not sure that the decision to go against Skechers is purely to protect the Stan Smith designs. Because why not go against Marant and McQueen too?

As I mentioned in my Skechers v. Steve Madden post in July, Skechers surpassed Adidas and is now the second-largest sports footwear brand in the U.S. —Perhaps this is why Adidas will not tolerate any copying by Skechers.

P.S.
While many outlets are focusing on the alleged infringement of the Stan Smith, that is not Adidas’s only complaint. Adidas says Skechers is also selling an infringing “Relaxed Fit Cross Court TR” sneaker.

This sneaker and another named the “Supernova” both prominently feature the Adidas’ three-stripe trademark. And the name supernova is a registered trademark Adidas uses for running shoes.

See the sneakers from this fashion law dispute below:


* Adidas America, Inc. et al v. Skechers USA, Inc., case number 3:15-cv-01741, in the U.S. District Court of Oregon.

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