By  on October 20, 2008

The recent trend of sneaker-related intellectual property lawsuits continued last week when Nike Inc. accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of patent infringement.

In documents filed in federal court in Chicago on Monday, Nike said Wal-Mart has sold shoe designs that violate its patents for its Shox line of sneakers, which feature exposed, shock-absorbing coils in the heel. The Beaverton, Ore.-based sportswear giant filed the Shox patents in 2004. It included sketches from the filings in the suit in side-by-side comparisons with images of the Wal-Mart designs in question, which also feature exposed coils in the heel.

Nike said the infringement is intentional and willful, and that the intent made for an “exceptional case.” It is seeking a permanent injunction against Wal-Mart, court fees and other, unspecified damages.

Wal-Mart did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Sneaker infringement suits have been keeping intellectual property lawyers, Wal-Mart’s included, busy as of late. Unlike the Nike filing, recent suits have focused on fashion more than function.

Late last month, Adidas AG accused Target Corp. of selling shoes that violated its three-stripe trademark, while Asics Corp. served Dolce & Gabbana Srl with a suit that claimed the fashion house had infringed on its own trademark stripes. Earlier in September, Wal-Mart settled a three-year-old infringement suit with Adidas over its sale of sneakers and sandals bearing two parallel stripes. The parties did not reveal details of the settlement.

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