Skechers Cites Puma Ruling in Adidas Suit

On Monday, June 5, 2017, Skechers USA Inc. cited a decision in California’s Central District that refused an injunction bid by Puma in their case Puma SE v. Forever 21 Inc., which Skechers claims to be “materially indistinguishable” to their longstanding case with Adidas. The case revolves around Skechers’ design of the “Onix” and its “near identical resemblance” to the Adidas Stan Smith.

In February 2016, U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez issued an injunction, ceasing all production and sales of the “Onix” due to the “striking similarities” of the two models. Judge Hernandez asserted that Skechers knowingly attempted to draw off the recent resurgence of the Stan Smith. Production of the Onix halted, but Skechers promised an appeal was imminent.

The appeal began in October 2016, with Skechers arguing that the lower court did not require Adidas to provide adequate evidence to prove that the Onix’s similarities to the Stan Smith would lead to permanent harm to Adidas. On June 5, 2017, Skechers filed a supplementary authority notice, which pointed to the Puma decision. Both Puma and Adidas only provided an employee affidavit alleging harm to the company. According to the Puma decision, this type of evidence does not satisfy the irreparable harm standard set by previous Ninth Circuit precedent. Additionally, the District Court in Puma found that Puma made no showing that lost sales couldn’t be compensated by money damages and that no proof was shown to validate Puma’s claims regarding damages to their brand image and reputation. Skechers asserts that Adidas has also failed in both regards. Based on that decision, Skechers is now seeking to have the injunction lifted so it may continue sales of the “Onix” sneaker.

This type of suit will certainly not be the last for Skechers or the sneaker market as a whole. The frequency of brands allegedly copying other brand’s designs and innovation is on the rise in the footwear market as competitors attempt to gain leverage on one another. The ultimate decision in this case and similar cases may have a lasting impact on future decisions regarding companies allegedly attempting to mimic designs and popular silhouettes.

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