The ongoing rivalry between Adidas and Nike reached a new milestone this week when Adidas filed its first federal lawsuit against Nike. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in East Texas with Adidas alleging that Nike infringed on nine of its patents related to smartphone apps and adjustable shoe technology. Apps include Nike Run Club, Training Club and SNKRS apps. The patents allegedly infringed relate to app features such as audio feedback during workouts, GPS tracking, training plans, and integration with third-party accessories such as heart rate monitors.
The ability to reserve and purchase limited-edition sneakers is also in question as Adidas’ Confirmed app, introduced in 2015, gives customers first-hand access to its brands and exclusive sneaker releases, and Nike’s SNKRS app, launched soon after, enables similar functionality.
With respect to adjustable shoe technology, Adidas stated in the complaint that in 2004, “it released the world’s first intelligent running shoe, the Adidas 1 which detected and adjusted the comfort of the shoe while ‘she was carried’. Additionally, in 2005 Adidas introduced “the first fully integrated training system combining sensors in shoes and wearable devices”. Adidas alleged that Nike’s adjustable Adapt sneakers infringed the Adidas 1 sneaker.
The lawsuit comes after Nike filed a lawsuit against Adidas in December in federal court in Oregon and the United States International Trade Commission, alleging that Adidas’ shoes violated Nike’s Flyknit sneaker design. This rivalry goes back even further, with Nike suing Adidas in East Texas in 2005, alleging that several Adidas shoes infringed two patents related to shoe design.
Although this is the first time Adidas has filed a lawsuit against Nike in federal court, the features in question have a long history of litigation. Adidas previously sued Under Armor over its Map My Fitness app. This case was settled, with Under Armor agreeing to pay Adidas a licensing fee. Here, Adidas seeks damages and a court order restraining Nike from “directly or indirectly infringing one or more” of the patents involved. Since the features at issue, such as GPS route tracking, are very common with fitness apps today, this case could have major implications for the future of fitness apps.
©2022 Norris McLaughlin PA, All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 168