WASHINGTON — Reebok International Ltd. has filed a patent infringement complaint against New York-based TRB Acquisitions LLC and its affiliates at the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging the entities infringed on some of the brand’s patents used in certain athletic shoe technology.
At the heart of the complaint is patented Reebok technology used in the soles of certain athletic shoes that “absorb impact forces” and can conform to the shape of an individual’s foot, designed to improve the functionality and performance of the soles of its footwear, the company said in its ITC complaint.
The technology, developed in the early Aughts, has since been incorporated into several Reebok footwear products, including its RealFlex Train footwear.
Reebok, which is owned by Adidas AG, is alleging that TRB and its affiliates, including licensee Elite Performance Footwear LLC, and RBX.COM LLC, RBX Active LLC and RBX Direct LLC, all of which are alleged to be under common ownership by TRB, violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain of its patents.
Reebok said it sold over 300,000 pairs of shoes totaling $9 million in sales from the product lines covered by the patents that were alleged to have been infringed upon. The company said it “made significant investments to develop and bring to market these new and innovative technologies in the United States.”
It has made “large investments” in facilities at Reebok’s 42-acre corporate headquarters in Canton, Mass., which are behind most aspects of Reebok’s design and development, the company said.
Reebok said it has two business units in the U.S. — its Future Innovation units, dedicated to research and development of new and innovative technologies for use in Reebok’s products.
The company estimated that the total investment it has made in those business units and related supply chain management, sourcing and information technology covered by the patents in question exceeded $3.1 million in fiscal year 2015.
“The RBX respondents have introduced athletic shoes incorporating Reebok’s patented technology,” Reebok alleged in its complaint. “Indeed, RBX’s accused product shoes appear modeled after Reebok’s patented shoes in significant respects, ranging from their brand name and appearance — the subject of related litigation already pending in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon — to the design and functionality of their soles.”
Reebok said one example of the alleged infringement on its shoe sole technology includes the RBX Men’s X-Knit Special Edition Training shoe, which it charged “incorporates inventions and infringes upon two Reebok patents.”
An attorney representing TRB declined to comment on the ITC complaint.
Reebok is requesting that the ITC impose a permanent limited exclusion order to stop all of the allegedly infringing footwear imports from entering the U.S., as well as cease and desist orders from importing the products into the U.S. and the imposition of a 60-day bond to “prevent further injury to the domestic industry of Reebok” relating to the specified patents.