Nike didn't hold back harsh wording in its recent patent infringement suit against Puma. In the court filing, Nike claimed that Puma's business model forgoes researching its own designs and instead relies on designs stolen from Nike. This lawsuit could be of interest to entrepreneurs in California.
The sportswear giant says it has spent 'years of research, design and development" to create its most popular brands only to have Puma developers infringe on those designs for their own gain. The center of the controversy is Nike's $1 billion grossing Flyknit design. Flyknit uses a mix of yarn and fabric to create lightweight, seamless outerwear. Because of the novel design, Nike has taken steps to file trademarks globally to protect the Flyknit brand. According to Nike, there are over 300 patents for the Flyknit brand on file around the world.
The suit filed by Nike focuses on utility patents as opposed to design patents. In other words, it is not the look of Puma's clothing but the way that they were constructed that Nike believes infringes on its trademarks. Nike's suit seeks damages for infringement not only of the Flyknit brand but also Nike's famous Air-brand shoes. The lawsuit seeks an order forcing Puma to cease all infringement. The suit also seeks monetary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney's fees and enhanced damages because of the 'willful" nature of Puma's alleged infringement. At the time of writing, Puma had not responded to the suit.
Trademark disputes can be complicated, especially in the clothing field. After all, certain types of clothing will inevitably have some similar elements. An attorney with experience in intellectual property litigation may be able to help craft a litigation strategy that highlights the areas where a competitor has crossed the line and infringed upon a design.