LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Wednesday it had discontinued a sneaker design at the center of a trademark infringement lawsuit brought this year by New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In a joint statement, the two companies said the suit had been dismissed. Representatives for both LVMH and New Balance said they would not comment beyond the statement, which made no mention of a financial settlement.

New Balance filed its trademark complaint in September in U.S. District Court in its home city of Boston. The company alleged the Louis Vuitton Minstrel sneaker design bore too close a resemblance to its own 574 model, a simple all-gray trainer it has sold since the mid-Nineties.

The suit created something of a role reversal for LVMH, which is typically on the offensive end of trademark and copyright disputes. In fact, in court papers New Balance cited the luxury brand’s high profile as a particular concern.

“Louis Vuitton’s superior marketing ability and fame is likely to lead to reverse confusion because some relevant consumers will come to associate the 574 design with Louis Vuitton, not New Balance,” lawyers for the sneaker firm wrote.

On Wednesday, Michael Pantalony, LVMH’s North American director of civil enforcement, called the resolution amicable, while his counterpart at New Balance said both firms might work together to address trademark issues in the future.

Ed Haddad, vice president of intellectual property for New Balance, said, “Based on our experience in resolving this issue and understanding what we both share in protecting intellectual property, we now hope to explore joining forces with Louis Vuitton in certain anticounterfeiting initiatives.”

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