By  on April 5, 2007

NEW YORK — Reebok International Ltd., a subsidiary of Adidas Inter­national, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nike over alleged infringement of its collapsible shoe technology.

According to documents filed on April 3 in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, Reebok alleged that a number of Nike's products infringed on a patent Reebok obtained in January. The Nike products Reebok complained about in its suit are "Free," "Free Flex," "Free Zen & Now," "Free Trainer" and "Free Trail." The Reebok patent protects the technological design features of its collapsible shoes, which include flexible materials in the sole.

"We are evaluating the claims related to this very recently issued U.S. patent and any potential limited application to the successful Nike Free product," said Derek Kent, Nike's senior media relations manager.

"Reebok is a recognized innovator with a commitment to continuous improvement of footwear technology for the benefit of our consumers,'' Diana Wainrib, chief counsel for Reebok, said in a statement. "We will act to protect our research and development efforts whenever companies try to claim Reebok technology as their own."

Reebok's complaint petitioned the court for unspecified financial damages and attorney's fees.

This is not the first time Nike and Adidas have gone to court over technology patents for footwear. In February 2006, Nike filed a lawsuit against Adidas for alleged patent infringement of its SHOX cushion technology. That lawsuit was also filed in a Texas federal court, and it is pending. Nike has been actively protecting its own patents for some time, and filed patent actions last year against Air Max Import and Export and Romeo and Juliette.

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