Last updated on February 16th, 2024
Nike, the renowned sports apparel company, has initiated legal action against two rival brands, New Balance and Skechers. The basis of the lawsuit revolves around Nike's claim that these competitors are unlawfully utilizing their advanced technology, which is responsible for creating durable and lightweight footwear.
On this Monday, Nike initiated legal action by filing two separate lawsuits for patent infringement. The first lawsuit was filed in federal court in Massachusetts against New Balance, while the second was filed in California against Skechers. These lawsuits follow Nike's previous legal battles with Puma in 2018, Adidas in 2021, and Lululemon in 2023, all centered around the same issue.
Nike's legal action centers on Flyknit, an innovative fiber crafted by the company and utilized for the upper section of their shoes. This refers to the portion of the shoe above the sole that encompasses the foot. Nike claims that Flyknit not only provides robust support for the wearer's feet but is also lightweight and allows for breathability.
According to court records, Nike claims that Flyknit, after over ten years of research, has been instrumental in reducing materials waste. Since the introduction of Flyknit, Nike has managed to save 3.5 million pounds of waste and has successfully diverted 182 million plastic bottles from nine landfills by adopting recycled polyester in all their Nike Flyknit shoes, as reported by a 2016 study conducted by New York University.
According to court records, Nike has taken legal action against New Balance this year by issuing cease-and-desist letters in relation to Flyknit. However, Nike claims that despite prior notification, New Balance's infringement is expanding in both range and magnitude.
"Due to the success of Nike's Flyknit, many of Nike's competitors have copied and made unauthorized use of Nike's Flyknit technologies. Skechers has likewise used Nike's Flyknit technologies without authorization." - Nike lawyers
Flyknit Patents History
Nike claimed ownership of the Flyknit technology in multiple lawsuits, citing nine patents filed between September 2012 and July 2023.
They accused New Balance of utilizing Flyknit in the sale of specific footwear models, such as the Fresh Foam X 1080 v12, Fresh Foam X Vongo v5, FuelCell SuperComp Trainer, and Tekela v4 Magia FG.
In a separate lawsuit against Skechers, Nike alleged that the Ultra Flex 3.0, Glide Step Sparkle, and various other shoe designs infringed upon their Flyknit technology.
Nike did not provide an immediate response when asked for a comment on Tuesday. Skechers, in an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch, refrained from commenting on the lawsuit.
"We fully respects competitors' intellectual property rights, but 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." - New Balance told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement Tuesday
Nike is seeking a federal judge's intervention to prevent New Balance and Skechers from distributing shoes that imitate the Flyknit material. Alongside these legal actions, Nike has additionally requested compensation, without providing a specific monetary figure.
In August 2022, Nike reached a resolution in its legal dispute with Adidas regarding the Flyknit technology. Similarly, Nike concluded its case against Puma in January 2020. Meanwhile, Nike's ongoing litigation against Lululemon, initiated in January, still remains unresolved currently.