Nike initiated federal lawsuits on Monday against rivals New Balance and Skechers, accusing them of infringing patents related to Nike’s technology for crafting upper portions of sneakers.
The footwear giant’s lawsuits said that several New Balance athletic shoes and Skechers sneakers misuse Nike’s patented “Flyknit” technology for running, soccer and basketball shoes.
Nike has previously sued Adidas, Puma and Lululemon for infringing Flyknit patents. Adidas and Puma have settled their lawsuits, while Nike’s case against Lululemon is still ongoing.
What is Nike Flyknit technology?
According to Nike, its Flyknit technology utilises high-strength fibers to create lightweight one-piece uppers with targeted areas of support, stretch, and breathability. As stated on Nike’s website: “A fabric that fits like a sock, with the support and durability for sport.”
Different knit patterns are employed within a single Flyknit upper, with specific areas having a tighter weave for increased support, while others are designed to be more flexible or breathable.
The lawsuits said that the patented technology enables Nike to produce high-performance uppers with reduced materials and waste.
Details of the lawsuits
Nike’s complaint against New Balance said shoes from New Balance’s Fresh Foam, FuelCell and other lines violate Nike’s patent rights. Nike sued Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers in Los Angeles, claiming that shoes, including Skechers’ Ultra Flex and Glide Step brands, infringed on its patents.
Nike is seeking an unspecified amount of money damages and court orders permanently blocking New Balance and Skechers from infringing the patents.
What is the counterclaim?
Responding to the lawsuits, New Balance stated in a release that it “fully respects competitors’ intellectual property rights.” However, it said that Nike does not exclusively own the right to design and produce footwear using traditional manufacturing methods that have been employed in the industry for decades.
Nike has previously filed lawsuits against Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon for infringing Flyknit patents. Adidas and Puma have settled their lawsuits, while Nike’s case against Lululemon is still ongoing.
(With agency inputs)