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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Checkerboard patent:Black and White?

Skechers USA Inc., have hired high-profile attorneys in a bid to stop Vans Inc. from putting squares on their shoes. The dispute began earlier this year when Skechers introduced a new slip-on shoe that resembled Vans’ classic canvas shoe. Anticipating a legal challenge from Vans, Skechers filed a pre-emptive suit in March. WhenVans filed for an injunction their request was rejected by a Federal Judge. Vans claimed the new line of slip-on shoes violated their registered trademark of checkerboard patterned uppers and diamonds and six point star soles which they introduced in 1981. In her order judgement, the Federal judge acknowledged Vans association with checkerboard shoes but since the pattern was so widespread among other canvas topped trainers then no company could claim exclusivity. Vans were unable to established the company’s trademark was sufficiently extensive enough to prohibit Skechers from using it. In reference to the pattern on the bottom of the shoe, the judge said there was little danger of confusion between the Vans and Skechers models. Skechers, have gained a reputation of late for cashing on existing fashion trends by muscling in on existing rival favourites in order to maximse their own sales. It is reported their evergreen stock has now been relegated to discount outlets as the company persue sales in ath-leisure fashion. The poacher’s approach has engendered some acrimony among competitors with already Asics has taken legal action against Sketchers for alleged trademark infringement. The lawsuit was settled last month. The black and white (two tone) checkerboard design has proven a favourite among surfers and thrashers and was immortalised when Vans’ checkerboard shoes which were worn by Sean Penn when he played Jeff Spicoli in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” (1982).

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