Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nike vs. Adidas: The knitted sneaker

Knitted (assembling a shoe's upper by knitting) running shoes i.e., the Flyknit was introduced by Nike in 2012. Acoording to the company it took a decade of research and development to perfect the manufacturing technique.

A year later adidas, introduced their version of the knitted shoe, the Primeknit. Nike immediately filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Nuremberg, Germany seeking to prohibit adidas from making and selling in Germany, The case was filed in and limited to Germany because adidas made and distributed the Primeknit in Germany. The German court granted Nike's injunction and ordered adidas to halt the sale and production of its knitted sneaker. After adidas appealed the ruling it was overturned on the basis the technology involved in making the shoe's knitted upper had been around since the 1940s.

Further Nike’s design patent failed to meet the novelty element required and striped Nike of the right to continue to pursue adidas for patent infringement. Nike’s patent was also deemed invalid in Germany. Both Nike and adidas started selling their respective knitted footwear in the U.S. More legal squabbles continued over the patent ensued in the US, and although these were initially rejected the matter has been referred to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to decide whether Nike’s invention, in fact, obvious and thus, ineligible for patent protection, among other issues.

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