vans vf. corp.

Vans and parent company VF Corp. are is suing Primark for copying two of its iconic skateboard sneakers.

The lawsuit, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, was filed in a New York federal court earlier this month.  

The footwear company claims that Primark, an Irish-based fast-fashion company, has been copying its designs and selling look-a-like sneakers in the U.K. since the summer of 2017.

Vans notified Primark shortly after, asking the company to stop selling its products, and believed the matter was settled last January.

That was until Vans became aware that Primark was once again selling products — this time in the U.S.

The two sneakers in question include the Vans Old Skool sneaker and the Vans Sk8-Hi sneaker, two of the company’s most popular products, both of which have the trademark “side stripe” and waffle-patterned bottom.

Vans sneakers compared with Primark sneakers, as seen in court documents.  Courtesy

Vans said it has been using the trademarked side stripe since the Seventies.

“The Side Stripe Trademark’s prominent placement and often-contrasted color make Vans’ shoes immediately recognizable to consumers even at far-off distances,” the court documents state.

Furthermore, the company argues since the side stripe is non-functional, a requirement for trademarked goods, and distinctive, it is recognizable by the public as a genuine Vans shoe.  

“The infringing products are calculated and intentional knock-offs of Vans’ footwear products,” the court documents continue. “And have been designed to confuse the purchasing public.”

Vans sneakers compared with Primark sneakers, as seen in court documents.  Courtesy

The lawsuit points out that consumers have even begun to refer to Primark’s sneakers as “fake Vans” on social media.

“Primark has even gone so far as to name its infringing products the ‘Skater low tops’ and ‘Skater high tops’ in a blatant attempt to suggest a connection with Vans’ products that bear the Vans trademarks and trade dress, including the Vans’ Old Skool Shoe and Sk8-Hi Shoe,” the documents state.

A representative for Primark responded in an email, saying the company disagrees with the allegations brought by Vans. “And we plan to defend our position,” the representative wrote.