Skechers has not yet filed a response in the lawsuit that Nike filed against it for allegedly infringing at least 12 of its U.S. design patents but the Southern California-based footwear company has made a statement on social media. Addressed to its “retail partners,” Skechers states that it has heard reports that “bully” Nike may be notifying them that Skechers’ Skech-Air 92, Skech-Air Status, Skech-Air Blast, and Skech-Air Atlas styles “infringe certain Nike design patents” in connection with the recently-filed suit.
“Please note that the lawsuit has been filed just recently and merely contains Nike’s unproven allegations,” Skechers continues on to assert, noting that it “plans on defending the lawsuit vigorously and in response, will deny that any of the listed styles infringe any of Nike’s patents.” In fact, Skechers says that it “respects the intellectual property rights of others,” which seems to stand at odds with Nike’s assertion that Skechers is in the business of manufacturing “Skecherized versions” of Nike sneakers, including blatant replicas of its VaporMax and Air Max 270 designs.
While Nike claims in the suit, which was filed in a California federal court early this month, that “instead of innovating its own designs and technologies,” Skechers maintains a “business strategy that includes copying its competitors’ designs to gain market share,” Skechers claims that “rather than competing in the marketplace, [Nike] continues to use its vast resources to stifle competition.”
Finally, Skechers states that “as far as [its] retail partners are concern,” it stands “one hundred percent behind all of [its] product offerings, and would, of course, defend and identify your company” – i.e., compensate them for any damages caused as a result of the sneakers at issue, such as if the court requires that they be pulled from shelves for the duration of the case – “if Nike indeed tries to bully you, too.”
According to the design patent infringement lawsuit that it filed, Nike claims that in selling its Skech-Air Atlas, Skech-Air 92, Skech-Air Stratus, and the Skech-Air Blast models, among others, Skechers has “made, used, offered for sale, sold, and/or imported into the United States” shoes having designs that share “the same overall appearance of the claimed designs of [its] VaporMax patents” and its Air Max 270 patents. The aforementioned Skechers sneakers, Nike argues, “are substantially the same” as its patent-protected sneakers, so much so that “an ordinary observer will perceive the overall appearance of the claimed designs of the VaporMax [and the Air Max 270] patents and the corresponding designs of the [Skechers] shoes” to be virtually the same.
With that in mind, Nike claims that Skechers is running afoul of at least 12 of its U.S. design patents covering its VaporMax and its Air Max 270 models in a “willful, intentional, and deliberate” manner, since “at least as of the filing date of this complaint, Skechers knew or should have known that continuing to make, use, offer to sell, sell, and/or import the [shoes at issue] into the United States would directly infringe Nike’s patents, yet Skechers infringed and continues to infringe [them],” Nike asserts.
As for the status of the case, Skechers has until early December to file a formal response in the case either by way of an Answer or Motion to Dismiss.
*The case is Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc., 2:19-cv-08418 (C.D. Cal.).