Biggest retail and fashion lawsuits of 2021 – Footwear News


Amid a pandemic, supply chain slowdowns and record inflation, there was no shortage of legal issues affecting the fashion industry in 2021.

As is often the case in the industry, trademark complaints and litigation made up the bulk of legal dramas in 2021. Many brands such as Nike, Yeezy and Crocs cracked down on what they saw as “copy” products of competing brands. In some cases, complaints were filed before 2021 and received further updates throughout the year.

Other notable legal battles in 2021 focused on false advertising, fraud and counterfeiting.

From the dispute over brands of Nike and John Geiger to Yeezy suing Walmart over copy shoes, FN has gathered the biggest legal dramas to hit retail and fashion companies in 2021.

Crocs tackle imitator hooves

Crocs Inc. sued 21 companies in July for alleged trademark infringement. Defendants include Walmart Inc., Loeffler Randall Inc., and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. as well as many lesser-known businesses that sell online or wholesale to retailers such as Walmart. The lawsuits follow a complaint filed by Crocs in June with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) requesting an investigation into the illegal importation and sale of allegedly counterfeit footwear.

The clog from the Broomfield, Colorado-based shoe brand gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic and was even named Shoe of the Year at the 35th annual FN Achievement Awards.

Nike files a complaint for “Satan Shoes”

In March, Nike filed an infringement and trademark dilution lawsuit against MSCHF, the company that released its controversial Satan shoes with Lil Nas X. The shoes were essentially the classic Air Max 97 reimagined with black uppers and red detailing. Only 666 pairs of shoes, which also contained drops of human blood and sold for $ 1,018, were due to be released.

In a statement, Nike said it has no relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF. In April, Nike and MSCHF reached an agreement, which included a voluntary recall of the shoes sold.

John Geiger and Nike fight over counterfeiting

Nike named shoe designer John Geiger as a defendant in August 2021 when it expanded its initial lawsuit against shoe maker La La Land Production & Design.

According to the complaint, La La Land provided Geiger with sneakers similar to Nike’s Air Force 1 shoes, which violated certain elements of the trade dress for that product. Nike said that the marketing and sale of the shoes by Geiger intentionally created “confusion in the market” and capitalized “on Nike’s reputation and the reputation of its iconic shoes.”

However, Geiger filed a motion to dismiss Nike’s trademark infringement lawsuit in November. In the motion filed to dismiss the case, Geiger’s attorney argued that his shoes did not have the iconic Nike Swoosh and instead featured Geiger’s signature “G” logo.

“I am preparing to fight this battle for all the creators and the underdogs who are fighting the same uphill battle as I am,” Geiger wrote in a public statement on his Instagram account.

Lululemon and Peloton spat on the clothes

In November, Lululemon charged Peloton with counterfeit commercial clothing, false designation of origin and unfair competition. The lawsuit represented an escalation in the legal battle between the two sports powers. Lululemon filed the lawsuit just days after Peloton brought the allegations to federal court in Manhattan. In that Nov. 24 filing, Peloton asked the court to dismiss Lululemon’s “baseless” copyright infringement claims that “have no basis” due to clear differences that distinguish product sets, including including brand logos.

In 2016 Peloton and Lululemon launched a wholesale co-branding partnership in which Lululemon supplied clothing to Peloton. The items were typically co-branded with the two companies’ brands and resold through Peloton’s showrooms and website. This partnership ended in 2021, after which Peloton launched its own product line.

According to the complaint, “Peloton imitated many of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold counterfeit Lululemon products, claiming them as its own” after the partnership ended.

Yeezy sues Walmart over copy shoes

In June, Kanye West and Yeezy sued Walmart for allegedly selling copied versions of its popular Yeezy Foam Runners. The lawsuit claimed that by selling an “unauthorized exact copy” of the “sustainable” seaweed slip-on, Walmart effectively deprived West and Yeezy of “the market share they would otherwise have had”, according to the lawsuit. the Sourcing Journal.

Walmart said the shoes in question are sold by third-party sellers, not Walmart.

This lawsuit follows another law spat involving the Walmart logo. Walmart Apollo LLC filed a notice of objection with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in April, arguing that a sunburst star brand sought after by the brand West is too similar to its own sparkling logo.

Nike-backed track coach suspended for malpractice

Alberto Salazar, the once-famous trainer who led Nike’s Oregon long-distance running project until 2019, was officially banned from the sport by the US Center for SafeSport in December after he tried to appeal of a July decision.

The organization initially cited sexual and emotional misconduct in its decision. The news followed a 2019 New York Times Editorial Video by former teen runway star Mary Cain, alleging that Salazar publicly shamed her for failing to reach her weight goals and demanded weight loss to the point that she missed her period, has broke five bones and suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. Several of Cain’s Nike teammates have come forward to support his experiences, describing an environment of emotional and verbal abuse

Salazar appealed SafeSport’s initial decision in July. Now that the decision is official, the SafeSport database lists sexual misconduct only, not emotional misconduct, as the reason for the ban. Salazar has previously denied any allegations of weight abuse or shame, while apologizing for the potentially hurtful comments.

“In August 2021, we changed the name of the building from Alberto Salazar to Next% following SafeSport’s decision to permanently ban Alberto from becoming a coach,” Nike told FN in a statement.

Nike sues Adidas for patent infringement

In this shock of the sneaker titans, Nike accused Adidas of infringing patents related to its technology for knitted shoes. In a complaint filed in early December, Nike called for an FTC investigation into “the illegal and unauthorized importation” and sale of products that infringe Nike’s Flyknit technology.

According to Nike, Adidas has “given up on independent innovation” and instead “spent much of the last decade challenging several of Nike’s patents relating to Flyknit technology.”

“We are currently analyzing the complaint and we will defend ourselves against the allegations,” Adidas told FN in a statement. Our Primeknit technology is the result of years of dedicated research and shows our commitment to sustainability.

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