WASHINGTON – Kmart Corp. is the latest company to enter into a settlement agreement with Converse Inc., in a broad trademark infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to ITC documents.

Converse, owned by Nike Inc., filed a complaint against 32 retailers and manufacturers in October alleging they infringed on some of the brand’s trademarks used in certain shoes. The ITC initiated an investigation against the companies in November.

Several companies, including Tory Burch, Aldo Group, Hennes & Mauritz, Fila USA, Zulily Inc., Iconix Brand Group and Ralph Lauren Corp., have entered into settlement agreements with Converse since the complaint was filed and have agreed to stop importing the allegedly infringing shoes. But Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has continued to fight the claims.

In addition to Wal-Mart, the other major company remaining in the ITC complaint is Skechers. Converse also filed lawsuits in federal court against the companies. When companies settle ITC cases, the accompanying lawsuits are also typically dismissed, according to experts.

Converse claimed in the complaint that all of the defendants have infringed on its iconic midsole trademark design made up of a toe bumper and a toe cap, plus either an upper stripe and/or lower stripe, associated with its “All Star” high-top sneakers that were first introduced in 1917 and renamed “Chuck Taylor” after a Converse salesman and basketball player. Converse this week introduced an updated version of the Chuck Taylor All-Star that it dubbed the “Chuck II.”

In a redacted version of the separate settlement and consent order on the ITC Web site, Kmart has agreed to stop importing and selling the infringing products.

The signing of the consent order “does not constitute an admission by Kmart that any unfair act has been committed,” the ITC documents stipulated.

Converse and Kmart filed a motion for termination, which will go before an administrative law judge overseeing the ITC for review and a ruling.


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