March 2017
Recent Developments
Copyright Rah-Rah: High Court Issues Decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands
On March 22, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., a case involving the copyrightability of designs on articles of clothing. The court held that:
"[A] feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection only if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work-either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression-if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated."
The articles at issue were cheerleading uniforms, and the designs at issue were "combinations, positionings, and arrangements of elements" that include "chevrons . . . , lines, curves, stripes, angles, diagonals, inverted [chevrons], coloring, and shapes."
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee had entered summary judgment in favor of Star Athletica, the accused infringer, holding that the designs were not entitled to copyright protection because they could not be separated from the utilitarian function of the uniforms. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit's reversal, finding that the artistic features of the designs on the uniforms satisfied both prongs of its test.
Case law from the lower courts had created a pretzel of different, and sometimes irreconcilable, tests for drawing the line between the expressive (protected) and functional (unprotected) aspects of useful objects. The parties' positions in the case mirrored the courts' state of confusion. Star Athletica argued that copyright protection excludes garments unless the design feature is entirely and physically separable from the useful functions of the garment. Because the principal design features of Varsity Brands' uniforms are essential to the use of the article as a cheerleading uniform, they are not separable from the uniform and therefore cannot receive copyright protection. Varsity Brands, on the other hand, argued that a work is separable if it can exist in a tangible medium other than the uniform. Because the designs on its uniforms can exist on (for example) a piece of paper or a piece of fabric, the designs are protectable.
The Supreme Court agreed with Varsity Brands. The court relied heavily on the plain text of the Copyright Act, which provides that a "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural featur[e]" incorporated into the "design of a useful article" is eligible for copyright protection if it (1) "can be identified separately from," and (2) is "capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." 17 U.S.C. §101.
The Court made quick work of the first requirement: "The decisionmaker need only be able to look at the useful article and spot some two- or three- dimensional element that appears to have pictorial, graphic, or sculptural qualities."
The second requirement - of independent existence - was more difficult but the court settled on the following:
"The decisionmaker must determine that the separately identified feature has the capacity to exist apart from the utilitarian aspects of the article.... In other words, the feature must be able to exist as its own pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work as defined in §101 once it is imagined apart from the useful article."
The court's analysis of the two requirements nets out to this:
"[A] feature of the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright if, when identified and imagined apart from the useful article, it would qualify as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work either on its own or when fixed in some other tangible medium."
Timing does not matter; that is, it does not matter whether the design was freestanding art that was later applied to a useful article, or whether the design was intended at the outset for use on a useful article and then later argued to be freestanding art.
The court found that applying these principles to the surface decorations on Varsity Brands' cheerleading uniforms was "straightforward," explaining:
"First, one can identify the decorations as features having pictorial, graphic, or sculptural qualities. Second, if the arrangement of colors, shapes, stripes, and chevrons on the surface of the cheerleading uniforms were separated from the uniform and applied in another medium-for example, on a painter's canvas-they would qualify as "two-dimensional ... works of ... art."... The decorations are therefore separable from the uniforms and eligible for copyright protection."
The Court went out of its way to explain the limits of its holding, as not to give potential litigants hope that copyright can be used to protect the underlying article itself.
"To be clear, the only feature of the cheerleading uniform eligible for a copyright in this case is the two-dimensional work of art fixed in the tangible medium of the uniform fabric. ... [Varsity Brands has] no right to prohibit any person from manufacturing a cheerleading uniform of identical shape, cut, and dimensions to the ones on which the decorations in this case appear. They may prohibit only the reproduction of the surface designs in any tangible medium of expression-a uniform or otherwise."
In a footnote, the court addressed the dissent's criticism that the majority's decision would lead to the copyrighting of shovels. The majority's response states categorically that a shovel cannot be copyrighted. But, "if the shovel included any artistic features that could be perceived as art apart from the shovel, and which would qualify as protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works on their own or in another medium, they ... could be copyrighted. But a shovel as a shovel cannot."
The court also explained that what remains of the useful article after the design has been separated is irrelevant:
"The focus of the separability inquiry is on the extracted feature and not on any aspects of the useful article that remain after the imaginary extraction. The statute does not require the decisionmaker to imagine a fully functioning useful article without the artistic feature. Instead, it requires that the separated feature qualify as a nonuseful pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work on its own."
The Court also addressed a debate among the lower courts, some of which found that physical separability was required whereas others found that conceptual separability was enough. The Court sided with the latter view: "separability is a conceptual undertaking. Because separability does not require the underlying useful article to remain, the physical-conceptual distinction is unnecessary."
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Anthony Kennedy joined.
For more information, contact Barnes & Thornburg at 202-371-6377

Be sure to join us for our footwear summit May 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. We will have a special panel on footwear intellectual property trends and insights from industry leaders and top design and paten t attorneys.

Click here for m ore information. 

Utility patents issued in the month of February:
Pat. No.             Title                                                                                         Assignee
9,581,838          System, Method- Manipulating Color Changing Materials                                                     adidas AG
9,579,848          Methods of Joining Textiles & Other Elements                                                                      NIKE, Inc.
9,578,928          Method of Lasting an Article of Footwear                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
9,578,927          Shoe Wear-Out Sensor, Body-Bar Sensing System, Etc.                                                         Apple Inc.
9,578,926          Device for Automatically Tightening & Loosening Laces                                                Vibralabs Inc.
9,578,925          Waterproof Footwear Pocket                                                                                                             None
9,578,924          High-Heeled Shoe                                                                                                                             None
9,578,923          Athletic Shoe Sole Coating for Traction Enhancement                        Mission Product Holdings, Inc.
9,578,922          Sole Construction for Energy Storage and Rebound                           Newton Running Company, Inc.
9,578,921          Article of Footwear with Flexible Lasting Board                                                                    NIKE, Inc.
9,578,920          Energy Return, Cushioning, Arch Support Plates, Soles                                  Ariat International, Inc.
9,578,919          Article of Footwear Having Upper w/ Knitted Elements                                                        NIKE, Inc.
9,578,908          Apparel with Wear Indicator                                                                                    Under Armour, Inc.
9,576,311          Footcare Product Dispensing Kiosk                                                                   Bayer HealthCare LLC
9,575,229          Article Having a Plurality of Optical Structures                                                                     NIKE, Inc.
9,573,331          Thermoplastic Polyurethane Infused Mesh                                                                        Converse Inc.
9,572,405          Fastening Mechanism for Ice Skates                                                                                                 None
9,572,404          Shoe w/ Composite Upper & Foam Element & Method                                                         NIKE, Inc.
9,572,403          Spacer Textile Material w/ Tensile Strands, Mult. Point s                                                       NIKE, Inc.
9,572,402          Articles and Methods of Manufacturing Articles                                                                    NIKE, Inc.
9,572,401          Fishing and Hiking Boot with Recessed Cleats                                                                                None
9,572,400          Footwear w/ Sole Structure - Different Compressibilities                                                      NIKE, Inc.
9,572,399          Footwear Sole Assembly w/ Plural Cushioning Members                                                      NIKE, Inc.
9,572,398          Sole Structure w/ Alternating Spring & Damping Layers                                                       NIKE, Inc.
9,572,397          Heated Insole with Removable Assembly                                                 Schawbel Technologies LLC
9,572,396          Athletic Shoe                                                                                                Jennus Athletics Company
9,572,395          Human Locomotion Assisting Shoe and Clothing                                                                            None
9,572,394          Foot-Support Structures for Articles of Footwear                                                                   NIKE, Inc.
9,572,393          Method & Apparatus for Internal Heating of Footwear                                                                    None
9,569,746          Custom Fit Sale of Footwear                                                                                                   NIKE, Inc.
9,568,946          Microchip w/ Faraday Cages & Internal Flexibility Sipes                                                                None
9,568,381          Lower Limb Force Sensing System                                                                                                  None
9,567,696          Method of Manufacturing a Knitted Component                                                                    NIKE, Inc.
9,566,724          Automated Rubber Molding and De-Molding                                                                        NIKE, Inc.
9,565,908          Apparatus and Methods for Carrying Footwear                                                    Gavrieli Brands LLC
9,565,902          Toe-Cap Molding Machine                                                                       True Ten Industrial Co., Ltd.
9,565,901          Shoe Toe Shaping Clamping Device                                                        True Ten Industrial Co., Ltd.
9,565,900          Shoe Sole Portion Painting System                                                                                         NIKE, Inc.
9,565,899          Single & Double Pull Fit Adjustment System for Shoes                                  Fit Squared Shoes, LLC
9,565,898          Footwear Including a Support Cage                                                               Wolverine Outdoors, Inc.
9,565,897          Footwear Component for an Article of Footwear                                                                   NIKE, Inc.
9,565,896          Stability and Comfort System for an Article of Footwear                                                       NIKE, Inc.
9,565,895          Footwear w/ Elastic Footbed Cover & Soft Foam Footbed                  C & J Clark International Ltd.
9,565,894          Ankle and Foot Support System                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
9,565,893          Ankle and Foot Support System                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
9,565,892          Lateral Support System for Feet                                                                                                        None
9,565,891          Skate Boot with Improved Flexibility                                                                          Sport Maska Inc.
9,565,890          Retaining Device and Spike Devices for Shoes                                                                                None
9,565,889          Shoe                                                                                                                                                   None
9,565,888          Shoe Insert and Method for Using Same                                                                               LFRJ, LLC
9,560,897          Shoe Testing Apparatus                                                                                           Flextronics AP, LLC
9,560,896          Insole for Footwear                                                                                                             SoxsolS, LLC
9,560,895          Weighted Shoe Insole and Method for Making the Same              Stratten Performance Group, LLC
9,560,894          Article of Footwear with an Adaptive Fluid System                                                               NIKE, Inc.

Design patents issued in the month of February:
Pat. No.            Title                                                                                          Assignee
20170053518    Bootie Level Alert                                                                                                               Protexer, Inc.
20170053335    Systems and Methods for Sizing Shoes                                                            Andrew Hanscom; et al.
20170049190    Shoe                                                                                                                              Mighty Styley SL
20170049189    Cord Lock                                                                                                                                NIKE, Inc.
20170049188    Shoe Tongue Bracket                                                                                           Robert Wesley Shirley
20170049187    Knitted Shoe Components & Methods of Making Same                                            Kintmasters, LLC
20170049186    Footwear Having Active Regions & Secure Regions                            Action Sports Equipment, Inc.
20170049185    Article of Footwear w/ Flexible Fluid-Filled Chamber                                                           NIKE, Inc.
20170049184    Sole Structure w/ Bladder for Footwear & Method                                                                NIKE, Inc.
20170049183    Footwear w/ Sole Component - Lateral Roll Control                                                             NIKE, Inc.
20170049182    Orthotic Devices                                                                                                 Georgetown University
20170049181    Boots with Integrated Firearm Holster                                                                   Nathan Blaise Deters
20170049180    Self-Generation Shoe Using Magnetic Induction                                                                 Bali Trading
20170044696    Conformable Microporous Fiber & Woven Fabrics                                W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
20170043547    Method for Manuf. Shoe Sole w/ Multi-Material Spikes                                                 Teng-Jen Yang
20170043216    Athletic Performance Monitoring Systems & Methods                                                          NIKE, Inc.
20170042716    Shock Absorbing Device for Ankle & Knee Joints                                   Soongsil University Research
20170042292    Device for Protecting a Heel                                                                                          Adriana Ghirda
20170042291    Slip-on Footwear with Foot Securing System                                       Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc.
20170042290    Easy Access Articles of Footwear                                                                                           NIKE, Inc.
20170042289    Wire Tightening Apparatus                                                                                            Shin Kyung Inc.
20170042288    Sole Structure Including Sipes                                                                                                NIKE, Inc.
20170042287    Footwear w/ Support Assembly Having Members                                                                NIKE, Inc.
20170042286    Tethered Fluid-Filled Chamber w/ Multiple Config s.                                                             NIKE, Inc.
20170042285    Sole Structures w/ Auxetic Openings & Siping                                                                      NIKE, Inc.
20170042284    Sole Structure Having Auxetic Structures and Sipes                                                              NIKE, Inc.
20170042283    Shoe Sole                                                                                                                     Asics Corporation
20170042282    Thermal Protection System & Related Compositions                                               Dena Garner; et al.
20170042281    Heel Dampening Systems & Footwear Including Same                                   Ariat International, Inc.
20170042280    Booties, Footwear Assemblies- Seamless Film, Methods                     W. L. Gore & Associates; et al.
20170042279    Ski Boot                                                                                            Calzaturificio S.C.A.R.P.A. S.p.A.
20170042278    Climbing Shoe                                                                                  Calzaturificio S.C.A.R.P.A. S.p.A.
20170042277    Adjustable Shoes                                                                                                         Teresa Skrepenski
20170042276    Combination Shoe- Can be Transformed- Heel Heights                                                          Brad Alan
20170042275    Sole Recovering Energy Produced During Deambulation                                                 Vibram S.P.A
20170042264    Apparel & Other Products w/ Thermoplastic Polymer                                                           NIKE, Inc.
20170042260    Durable Reflective Safety Apparel w/ Active Laser Illum .                                                F.R.E.D. LLC
20170038747    Components Controlled Using a Smartphone Device                                                 Frampton E. Ellis
20170038611    Method- Applying & Using Color Changing Materials                                                           adidas AG
20170038243    Weight Calculating Intelligent Wearable Device, Method                                               Sheng Yu Peng
20170036377    Decorative Foam & Method                                                                                                    NIKE, Inc.
20170035597    Orthopedic Walking Brace Having a Curved Sole                                                                  DJO, LLC
20170035583    Method- Connect Structural Parts of Orthopedic Comps.                      Otto Bock Healthcare GMBH
20170035153    Adhesive Articles, Devices and Methods for Shoe Manuf.                                      IFS Industries Inc.
20170035152    Nonskid Spike Structure                                                                                                  Han-Ching Wu
20170035151    Footwear with Compressible Fluid-Filled Chamber                                                               NIKE, Inc.
20170035150    Footwear Article with Removable Toe Covering                                                                  Daniel Kulp
20170035149    Multi-Layered Braided Article and Method of Making                                                          NIKE, Inc.
20170035148    Shoe Having an Inflatable Bladder                                                         Reebok International Limited
20170035147    Upper for Footwear Article with Auxetic Configuration                                                        NIKE, Inc.
20170035146    Cushioning Assembly for an Article of Footwear                                                                   NIKE, Inc.
20170035145    Article of Footwear w/ Multi-Layered Support Assembly                                                      NIKE, Inc.
20170035144    Method of Manufacturing Fluid-Filled Chamber                                                                    NIKE, Inc.
20170035143    Sole Structure for a Shoe                                                                                        Mizuno Corporation
20170035142    De-Stress & Comfortable Sole Structure of High-Heels                                                     Hsu-Tong Tu
20170035141    Shoe Cover                                                                                                             Randy L. Burden, Jr.
20170029996    Stuffers for Purses, Boots and the Like                                                                              I'm Out!, Inc.
20170028661    Mold and Method for Getting Foot Model Thereof                                                       Chun-Yen Hsieh
20170028244    Resistance Training System                                                                                      Functionwear, LLC
20170027512    Electronic Sensor System for Use with Footwear                                                 Wiivv Wearables Inc.
20170027287    Tightening Mechanisms & Applications Including Same                                       Boa Technology Inc.
20170027286    Article of Footwear with Dynamic Tensioning System                                           Under Armour, Inc.
20170027285    Shoe Heel Engagement Support System & Method                                             J.M. Promotions, Inc.
20170027284    Footwear Upper w/ Knitted Component w/ Sock, Tongue                                                     NIKE, Inc.
20170027283    Footwear Assembly                                                                               W. L. Gore & Associates; et al.
20170027282    Sole of a Shoe                                                                                        Columbia Insurance Company
20170027281    Shoe and Method for Making a Shoe                                                       Regina Miracle International
20170027280    Sole Structures & Footwear w/ Lightweight Midsole                                                             NIKE, Inc.
20170027279    Springs for Shoes                                                                                      Powerdisk Development Ltd.
20170027278    Human Locomotion Shoe and Clothing                                                                    Mark Costin Roser
20170027277    Customizable Component Insole System                                                 Spenco Medical Corporation
20170027276    Footwear with Removable Heating Elements                                                                  Dennis Randall
20170027275    Modernized Baseball/Softball Foot Guard Sleeve                                                       Kay Tonalli Nava
20170027274    Gliding Sport Boot Sole                                                                                      Rossignol Lange S.R.L
20170027273    Shoe, Outer Layer Part for a Shoe and a Shoe Assembly                                 Performance SK8; et al.
20170027272    Wearable Shoe Insole                                                                                        Kenneth L. Yeglinski, II
20170027271    Interactive Shoe                                                                                              Lindsay Michelle Ferencz
20170027270    Fur Lined Injection Molded Footwear & Method                                                     Chinook Asia LLC
20170027266    Dynamic Load-Absorbing Materials and Articles                                   Purdue Research Foundation
20170027254    Convertible Seal for a Suit Used in and Around Water                                   Ocean Rodeo Sports Inc.
Trademarks published in the month of February:
(Note: 0 = design mark only)

Patent applications published in the month of February:
Pub. App. No.  Title                                                                                          Applicant
D779,809          Pair of Socks with Fasteners                                                                                                              None
D779,808          Boot Accessory                                                                                                                 Rosemarie Hill
D779,807          Shoe Upper                                                                                                       Holster Fashion Pty Ltd.
D779,806          Shoe Sole                                                                                                                                           None
D779,805          Shoe Sole                                                                                                                         Cole Haan LLC
D779,804          Footwear Outsole                                                                                    Deckers Outdoor Corporation
D779,803          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,802          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,801          Single-Sole Shoe with Stripe and Outpatch Sole                                                  Gavrieli Brands LLC
D779,800          Single-Sole Shoe with Outpatch Sole                                                                    Gavrieli Brands LLC
D779,799          Single-Sole Shoe with Stripe and Outpatch Sole                                                  Gavrieli Brands LLC
D779,798          Single-Sole Shoe with Orange Sole                                                                       Gavrieli Brands LLC
D779,797          Irish Dance Pump                                                                                              Antonio Pacelli Limited
D779,796          Shoe                                                                                                                                                   None
D779,795          Shoe                                                                                                                                                   None
D779,794          Footwear                                                                                                                                  Crocs, Inc.
D779,793          Shoe                                                                                                                           Yves Saint Laurent
D779,792          Footwear                                                                                                                         ECCO SKO A/S
D779,791          Footwear                                                                                                                 Diadora Sport S.R.L.
D779,355          Rope Formed by Interlocking Stitches - Clothing, Access.                                                              None
D779,192          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D779,191          Shoe                                                                                                                    Skechers U.S.A., Inc. II
D779,190          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                         Converse Inc.
D779,189          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                         Converse Inc.
D779,188          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                         Converse Inc.
D779,187          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D779,186          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D779,185          Boot                                                                                                                                         NIKE, Inc.
D779,184          Shoe                                                                                                                                         NIKE, Inc.
D779,183          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                             NIKE, Inc.
D779,182          Shoe                                                                                                         Reebok International Limited
D779,181          Sole for Footwear                                                                                                            Valentino S.p.A.
D779,180          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,179          Shoe                                                                                                         Reebok International Limited
D779,178          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,177          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,176          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D779,175          Shoe Sidewall                                                                                          Reebok International Limited
D779,174          Shoe Midsole                                                                                                                           NIKE, Inc.
D779,173          Shoe Upper                                                                                                       Holster Fashion Pty Ltd.
D778,592          Aglet                                                                                                                                        NIKE, Inc.
D778,591          Aglet                                                                                                                                        NIKE, Inc.
D778,590          Set of Shoe Panels                                                                                                                             None
D778,589          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,588          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,587          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,586          Shoe                                                                                                                                         NIKE, Inc.
D778,585          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,584          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,583          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,582          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,581          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,580          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,579          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,578          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,577          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,576          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,575          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,574          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,573          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,572          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,571          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,570          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,569          Shoe Upper                                                                                                                              NIKE, Inc.
D778,568          Shoe Midsole                                                                                                                      Converse Inc.
D778,567          Shoe Insole                                                                                                           Implus Footcare, LLC
D778,566          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,565          Sole                                                                                                                                 ECCO SKO A/S
D778,564          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,563          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,562          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,561          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,560          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,559          Traction Element for a Shoe Outsole                                                                       Under Armour, Inc.
D778,558          Sole for Footwear                                                                                                           ECCO SKO A/S
D778,557          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,556          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,555          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,554          Shoe Outsole                                                                                                                            NIKE, Inc.
D778,553          Shoe Midsole                                                                                                                           NIKE, Inc.
D778,552          Shoe Midsole                                                                                                                           NIKE, Inc.
D778,551          Shoe Midsole                                                                                                                           NIKE, Inc.
D778,550          Shoe Cover                                                                                                                SJK Ventures, LLC
D778,549          Stingray Protective Wading Boot                                                                                                      None
D778,041          Sock                                                                                                              Thirty Three Threads, Inc.
D778,040          Shoe Insole                                                                                                           Implus Footcare, LLC
D778,039          Sandal Upper                                                                                                                  JPT Group LLC

Litigation gavel

Huf Worldwide, LLC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; et al., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28297 (S.D. Cal. February 28, 2017). Synopsis: A federal court grants Wal-Mart's motion to dismiss Huf's federal trademark infringement claims that Wal-Mart's resale of Huf's shoes and apparel is likely to cause confusion due to material alteration Huf's goods, finding that Huf hasn't pled sufficient facts to show that Wal-mart resells products that are materially different.
In re Restoque Int'l LLC, 2017 TTAB LEXIS 78 (T.T.A.B. February 22, 2017). Synopsis: The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirms the Examining Attorney's refusal to register Restoque's JOHN JOHN MADE IN HEAVEN & Design trademark in connection with shoes, footwear, and clothing items, finding that it creates a likelihood of confusion with the prior registrations for MADE IN HEAVEN in connection with clothing and MADE IN HEAVEN INTIMATES in connection with shoes and intimate clothing items
Adidas America, Inc.; et al. v. ECCO USA, Inc.; et al. 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17558 (S.D. Ore. February 8, 2017). Synopsis: A federal court denies ECCO's motion to strike from the first amended complaint an agreement between the parties and all references to that agreement in an action for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, and breach of contract.
Crane Security Technologies, Inc.; et al. v. Rolling Optics, AB, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15529 (D. Mass. February 3, 2017). Synopsis: A federal court finds that certain documents claimed by Crane as privileged are privileged and shall not be disclosed in an action wherein Crane is claiming that the foils Rolling Optics makes and sells for use on stickers for certain consumer goods, such as fashionable footwear, infringe its patents.
Eliya, Inc. v. Steve Madden, Ltd.; et al. ; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15734 (E.D.N.Y. February 2, 2017). Synopsis: A federal court recommends that Eliya's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint be granted in part and denied in part and that Steve Madden's motion to strike be denied as moot in a trademark infringement action wherein Eliya alleges that Steve Madden profited by copying its trade dress of its shoes and that Steve Madden sold "direct knock-offs" of its shoes. 
General News Newspaper

Why Adidas Is Taking Legal Action Against Asics
Footwear News
March 21, 2017
Adidas is heading back to court to defend its tech properties, this time taking aim against athletic brand Asics.
Parent company Adidas AG and Adidas America Inc. today filed a patent-infringement suit against Asics America Inc. and its technology partner, FitnessKeepers Inc., in a Delaware district court.
The case claims that Asics and FitnessKeepers have directly infringed on roughly 10 patents held by Adidas, related to such concepts as "products for providing information about a user during a physical activity," "products that support real-time interactive communication and automated route generation" and "methods for determining workout plans and sessions."

Louboutin Loses Latest Fight to Register Red Sole Trademark in Switzerland
The Fashion Law
February 28, 2017
Christian Louboutin lost a recent quest to obtain federal trademark protection for its red soles in Switzerland. According to local Swiss media outlets, the country's highest court turned down the Paris-based footwear brand's final appeal for protection, holding that its red soles are merely aesthetic and as a result, are not worthy of trademark protection.
The Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne affirmed the Federal Administrative Court's April 2016 decision, which classified the brand's famed red sole as a "decorative element," as opposed to an identifier of source - the latter of which is the purpose of trademark law. Louboutin appealed the lower court's decision, but as of last week, the Supreme Court ruled against Louboutin, as well. The court held that while Louboutin does maintain trademark protections in other countries, including the United States, China, Russia and Australia, that does not mean it is entitled to the same level of protection in Switzerland.

Adidas Is Suing Puma for Trademark Infringement
Footwear News
February 22, 2017
Peter Verry 
On the pitch, soccer stars compete in Adidas and Puma cleats. Off the pitch, the two brands are competing in court.
Adidas America Inc. filed a suit against Puma North America Inc. on Friday in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon - Portland Division, citing trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices, among other claims.
The suit is over a soccer cleat Adidas stated bears "a confusingly similar imitation of Adidas' three-stripe mark." In the filing, Adidas stated it has used the parallel three stripes on its shoes for more than 60 years, and has been selling shoes with the mark in both the U.S. and worldwide as early as 1952.

Adidas Says Tesla Logo Is Too Similar To 3-Stripe TM
February 6, 2017
Bill Donahue (editing by Christine Chun)

Adidas picked a trademark fight Friday with electric car company Tesla, claiming a logo for the automaker's Model 3 sedan is confusingly similar to the company's oft-asserted "3-stripes mark."

Adidas AG filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, demanding the board stop Tesla Motors Inc. from the registering the logo - three horizontal stripes, similar to the styling of the "E" in Tesla's primary logo.

"The adidas 3-Stripes mark is well known to the consuming public and trade as identifying and distinguishing adidas exclusively and uniquely as the source of products to which the mark is applied," the German footwear giant wrote.
Click here to see the article online.

Nike's Patent Explosion Continues as 56 Inventions Earn Feds' OK 
Portland Business Journal 
February 14, 2017
Matthew Kish 
Nike Inc.'s patent rush isn't slowing down. And it continues to reflect a more disciplined approach to R&D.

The sportswear giant on Tuesday collected 56 patents, including 50 for designs and six for new technology.

The patent burst comes after Nike got a record 687 patents in 2016, including 262 for footwear, 96 related to data and 73 for manufacturing technology.

Tuesday's patent haul once again reflects that disciplined approach. Of the 56 new patents, 47 relate to footwear and apparel design, the company's strength. Six relate to manufacturing technology, a key industry battleground as sportswear companies race to automate factories.

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