Nike sues Adidas for copying the fabric of sneakers, the favorites of Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James | ECONOMY
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday with the International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, seeks to ban imports of a wide range of sneakers, including the adidas by Stella McCartney Ultraboost, the Pharrell William Superstar Primeknit and the Terrex Free Hiker hiking shoes.
The patents cover Nike’s FlyKnit technology, which uses specialized yarn from recycled and reclaimed materials to create a sock-like fit on the upper of the shoe. Nike said it was the result of more than a decade of research, almost all conducted in the United States, and “represented the first major technological innovation in the shoe upper in decades”.
FlyKnit was first introduced prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games and has been adopted by “basketball great LeBron James, international soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and world record marathoner Eliud Kipchoge”Nike said in the lawsuit.
Adidas and its related companies “have given up on independent innovation” and have instead focused on efforts to invalidate Nike patents for nearly a decade, Nike maintains.
“And while Adidas unsuccessfully challenged Nike’s patents, it continued to use Nike’s proprietary technology without permission.”Nike said in the lawsuit. “Nike is now forced to bring this action to defend its investments in innovation to protect its technology by stopping the unauthorized use of Adidas”.
Adidas said it is looking at the lawsuit and “we will defend ourselves against the accusations”.
“Our Primeknit technology is the result of years of dedicated research and shows our commitment to sustainability.said Mandy Nieber, a spokeswoman for Adidas.
Several of Nike’s patents, including two of the six in the ITC lawsuit, have been the subject of challenges by companies including Adidas. Nike said they came forward only because it refused to commit to not suing the German company.
Nike has been aggressive in protecting its FlyKnit and other shoe inventions. One lawsuit against Puma SE was settled in January 2020, and others against Skechers USA Inc. were settled in November.
The US trade agency is a popular forum for companies looking to derail rivals in the world’s biggest market. The commission works faster than most courts, with final decisions typically taking 15 to 18 months. Not only can it block products at the US border, but it can stop sales of products already brought into the country, an order that is harder to get in district court.