The Southern California-based footwear company filed for declaratory relief, or an official opinion from the courts, earlier this month in a California federal court after Adidas sent Skechers a letter telling the brand to stop infringing on the German company’s sneakers.
Now Skechers wants to get back to work “without interference from Adidas,” according to court documents.
The item in question is Skechers’ “Goldie Peaks Shoe.” The sneakers, which are still available, look a lot like Adidas’ trademarked parallel three stripes. Except the Goldie Peaks have a solid side panel backing and four stripes — not three — each one a different color and made from a different material, such as metallic studs, two-toned or textured.
Skechers claims this is enough to distinguish the difference between the two brands.
“Consumers are not likely to be confused into believing the Goldie Peaks Shoe is made by, sponsored by, approved by, or otherwise associated with Adidas,” the court documents state.
Brand association is an important element for determining if a product should receive trademark protection. If consumers are likely to be confused about the source of a product, or made to believe a collaboration exists, one or more products could be in violation of trademark infringement.
Skechers said this is not likely to happen and went on to describe Adidas’ accusations as “baseless.”
“Within the footwear and apparel industries, Adidas operates in a crowded field of stripe designs — some ornamental, others functional, and still others source-identifying. Accordingly, Adidas’ three-stripe mark is entitled to only narrow [trademark] protection,” the Skechers motion said.
In addition, the documents stated, “the prominent Skechers branding on the Goldie Peaks Shoe renders any possibility of confusion even more remote.”
Adidas’ beef with Skechers began in November 2018 when the German footwear and apparel company sent a letter to Skechers saying the Goldies were infringing on Adidas’ three stripes. Adidas demanded Skechers cease production of the sneakers immediately and hand over financial information regarding sales.
But Skechers said Adidas has actually had it out for them for much longer.
“In 2015, Skechers overtook Adidas to become the second-largest sneaker brand behind only industry leader Nike. In the years that followed, Skechers and Adidas have continued to battle for that number-two spot,” the court documents said.
Even so, Nike has also accused Skechers of trademark infringement multiple times.
Both Skechers and Adidas could not immediately be reached for comment.