October 15, 2014

Converse the World: The Battle for the Chuck Taylor All Star

by Guest Blogger

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People love shoes. Clearly, your friendly bloggers at Trademarkology love shoes. We have written about Reebok, Adidas, Nike, and many other companies known for their shoes. So, it's only fitting ;) that we finally have a reason to write about Converse - which has been owned by Nike since 2003 - and the Chuck Taylor All Stars. Born in 1917, the All Star is approaching its 100th birthday. In the 1920s, it was endorsed by Chuck Taylor and has alternately survived (a bankruptcy by Converse in the 1990s prior to its revival under Nike) and thrived (as a pop culture mainstay, including stints on the feet of Danny Zuko and Rocky Balboa) ever since as the Chuck Taylor All Star.

Yesterday, Converse filed 22 separate lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York accusing 31 companies of infringing its trademark on the Chuck Taylor All Star design. The list of companies sued includes heavy-hitters like Wal-Mart, Skechers, Fila, and H&M. Converse claims that it has served around 180 cease-and-desist letters related to the Chuck Taylor All Star since 2008. Converse also filed an action before the International Trade Commission in hopes of preventing alleged counterfeits of the Chuck Taylor All Stars from entering the United States.

If you are an avid Trademarkologist, you may remember our post about a lawsuit between Skechers and Fila where Skechers claimed that Fila was selling shoes confusingly similar to its "GO WALK" shoes. Converse's cases are similar. Big difference: while we disputed whether Skechers claim that the "GO WALK" shoes at issue were famous just yet, there is no dispute that the Chuck Taylor All Star shoes are famous.

As we noted above, Skechers now finds itself on the other side of the coin. Here is a graphic from Converse's Complaint against Skechers highlighting the similarities between its trademarked design and the shoes at issue:

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As always, for the trademark nerds, here is a link to the entire Complaint from the Skechers case, which is substantially similar to the complaints filed in the related cases. We will keep everyone posted as Converse goes toe-to-toe with the shoe world to protect its trademarked design.

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