words // Nick DePaula:
Skechers, the company that has never once signed an active NBA player to a direct on-court endorsement deal in its history, has filed a lawsuit against Adidas. The brand complains that it was at a competitive disadvantage in the athletic industry due to Adidas’ recent string of alleged illicit payments to amateur basketball players that were projected to go on to play in the NBA.
The NCAA and AAU-related payments currently being investigated by the FBI, “denied competitors like Skechers who play by the rules a fair opportunity to compete for the cachet of having trend-setting high-school and college athletes seen in their products,” according to the lawsuit filed yesterday by Skechers in California.
The crux of the case argues that Skechers had to increase their marketing spends in order to compete against Adidas in the ever-shifting performance and lifestyle space for market share. Skechers is also arguing that they’re due “an award of [Adidas’] profits … unlawfully derived as a result of wrongful conduct.”
Naturally, Adidas feels otherwise.
“The Skechers complaint is frivolous and nonsensical and should be summarily dismissed,” an Adidas spokesperson firmly told Forbes.
The only active NBA player ever signed directly by Skechers was Rick Fox, then a Los Angeles Laker during the early 2000s. While playing games in Nikes, he appeared in several Skechers print ads to promote their off-court sneakers that were allegedly “Redefining Style.” The brand has also signed post-career marketing agreements with retired NBA greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Larry Bird and Karl Malone, and also once partnered with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Interestingly enough, the brand’s lawsuit points out their controlling ownership stake in BrandBlack and ongoing partnership agreement with Big Baller Brand. Shortly after BrandBlack’s launch in late 2013, PR agencies working on behalf of Skechers were known to contact journalists and sneaker bloggers, in attempts to get them to remove any mention of a connection between Skechers and BrandBlack.
Of course, Skechers and Adidas are familiar foes in courtrooms around the country. Skechers has been sued for ripping off The Three Stripes’ Boost and SpringBlade technologies, along with its iconic Stan Smith design. For good measure, Nike has sued Skechers for infringing on its Flyknit construction as well.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted as more developments come.