ITC Judge Finds Trademark Violation in Sneaker Case

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Nov. 18 — Competitors of classic sneaker maker Converse have tried to import knockoffs into the country in violation of Converse's trademarks, an administrative law judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Nov. 17.

The judge entered an initial determination of violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which bars, among other things, the importation of goods that violate intellectual property rights.

The initial determination now moves to the full ITC for a decision on what will happen next.

The judge found that the imported goods infringed two of Converse's trademarks on sneaker sole designs (U.S. trademark registration Nos. 3,258,103 and 1,588,960), and a trademark on a design of stripes and diamond and line patterns on a sneaker's midsole and toe cap (No. 4,398,753).

The ruling comes as the result of a complaint filed in October 2014 by Converse Inc. of Boston against Skechers U.S.A. Inc. and dozens of entities involved in importation, distribution and retail, such as Zulily Inc. of Seattle, Ralph Lauren Corp. of New York, Kmart Corp. of Hoffman Estates, Ill., H&M Hennes & Mauritz LP of New York, FILA U.S.A. Inc. of Sparks, Md., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, Ark.

The ruling was issued by Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles E. Bullock.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at mwilczek@bna.com