Wednesday December 6, 2023

Nike Sues New Balance, Skechers Over Flyknit Technology

  • Nike alleges that the companies infringed on patents relating to its Flyknit sneaker technology.
  • Nike has previously sued Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon for the same infringement.
Detailed view of the SRR initials on the Nike Epic React flyknit shoes of Sanya Richards-Ross during the 125th Penn Relays at Franklin Field.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Nike is defending its place atop the sneaker market hierarchy by suing two competitors who have been gaining popularity recently.

The athletic apparel behemoth filed federal lawsuits against New Balance and Skechers, alleging that the companies infringed on patents relating to Nike’s Flyknit technology, per Reuters.

Imitators to Flyknit technology — described by Nike as using “high-strength fibers to create lightweight uppers” — have popped up across the sneaker marketplace, so much so that New Balance defended its similar designs.

“[New Balance] fully respects competitors’ intellectual property rights, but Nike does not own the exclusive right to design and produce footwear by traditional manufacturing methods that have been used in the industry for decades,” the company said.

All the same, the Oregon-based company has been there to sue at every turn: Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon were also sued for infringing on Flyknit, with the former two settling their lawsuits and the latter still in litigation over it. In 2021, Nike attempted to block Adidas imports relating to the Flyknit lawsuit.

New Balance and Skechers have both seen an uptick in relevance in recent years, as they have both taken on more savvy branding and endorsements.

In January, New Balance signed Japanese baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani to an endorsement deal, adding him to a roster that includes Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and tennis major champion Coco Gauff.

Skechers is reportedly close to signing Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid as its first basketball athlete — just months after signing Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane to a lifetime deal. The company also works with golf major champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

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