• Anne Heaney, Director

Nike Files New Lawsuit Against Skechers

Nike on Monday filed the fourth in a series of lawsuits against Skechers related to what it claims are knockoff shoes, the latest escalation in what is becoming a fierce legal dispute between the two athletic footwear companies.

In the new lawsuit, Washington County-based Nike alleges Skechers is infringing on two utility patents related to its popular Air technology. Nike wants a federal judge to force Skechers to stop selling the offending shoes. It also wants its costs and attorneys fees reimbursed. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

"Nike has a strong history of innovation and leadership in footwear design and development," the company said in a statement. "We innovate to help athletes reach their potential and we vigorously defend and enforce the intellectual property that protects those innovations."

A spokeswoman for Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers declined comment.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Skechers ad in the New York Times in which Skechers claimed Nike is acting like a legal "bully" by pressuring Skechers retailers not to sell certain shoes.

"Skechers respects the intellectual property rights of others but our much larger competitor continues to use its vast resources to stifle competition in the courtroom rather than compete in the marketplace," Skechers said in the ad.

In the newest lawsuit, Nike responded to the ad, saying it "is not bullying and it does not stifle competition."

The new lawsuit is the fourth Nike has filed against Skechers related to what it alleges are knockoff sneakers. On Sept. 30, Nike alleged in a separate federal lawsuit that Skechers' "business strategy includes copying its competitors' designs to gain market share."

The lawsuit further alleged a "Skechers corporate witness" in a similar case testified that CEO Robert Greenberg ordered employees to knock off the designs of competitors.

The new lawsuit goes a step further, alleging Skechers refers to sneaker designs with "code words" in internal documents in order to shield incriminating records from discovery during litigation.

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