The Nike Air Force 1 is iconic. So iconic that many brands have released models similar in design and style. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Already LLC v. Nike Inc., a case centered on sneaker trademark disputes stemming from three years ago. Nike claimed that Yum?s ?Soulja Boy? and ?Sugar? models were a ?confusing similar imitation? to the AF1, a design trademarked in 2008. Yums filed a counterclaim in November 2009 in effort to cancel Nike?s trademark registration.
Since then, Nike has delivered a ?covenant not to sue? Yums, stating that their sneakers ?no longer infringe or dilute the Nike mark at a level sufficient to warrant the substantial time and expense of continued litigation.? It?s said that such an action is common defense tactic for patent holders, eliminating the conflict at the root and halting Yums attempts to invalidate a trademark for the Air Force 1.
Yums has elected to push forward on the case, claiming that Nike?s trademark is ?continued libel? against Yums. The District Court has since dismissed Yums? claim, a decision upheld by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now, the question before the Supreme Court is whether or not the U.S. District Court has the right to hear trademark challenges in cases where the holder of the mark agrees not to pursue infringement claims. According to University of Iowa law professor Jason Rantanen, this case could have ?profound implications for patent law.? Stay tuned for more information on this shoe related story.
Source: Portland Business Journal