You win some, you lose some. Converse in trademark battle

In 2014, the shoe manufacturing giant Converse, owned by Nike,  filed claims of trademark infringement of their Chuck Taylor line designs against thirty one other shoe manufacturers including New Balance, Walmart and Skechers. Although twenty eight of these companies have managed to reach a settlement  with Converse, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) recently ruled that Skechers, Walmart and New Balance may have only  infringed upon some of the trademarked designs.

According to the World IP Review, Converse has claimed that it has trade dress and is in possession of trademarks that cover the Chuck Taylor design’s “distinctive midsole ... made up of a toe bumper and a toe cap, plus an upper strike and/or a lower stripe.” However, the ITC ruled that only two of Converse’s trademarks are valid and that they only cover the shoe’s sole design and not the distinctive stripes, rubber-toe band and toe cap.

Upon hearing the verdict, the President of Skechers, Michael Greenberg stated that “Countless companies...have used the same midsole design in canvas court-style sneakers for decades” and are content with the decision made by the ITC regarding the trademark infringement claims.

In this case, the court found that only two of Converse’s design trademarks were valid and that they did not cover some of the main elements of their designs. When filing a design trademark it is recommended to submit multiple applications simultaneously and to file detailed drawings on the unique elements as well as a line drawing demonstrating the essence of your design. This will enable your company to create a web of protection against potential infringers.

A trademark  is a worthwhile investment for your long term fashion brands as it will protect your name and allow you to enforce your trademark rights over copycats and companies producing counterfeit goods who are consciously infringing on your mark. For more short term products fashion companies tend to rely on copyright protection or unregistered community design rights (which only last for 3 years). If you do choose to register a trademark, it is recommended to file your application before launching your product or services into the market to ensure that they are fully protected.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website,
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