Converse sues for trademark infringement

Converse the makers of the famous Chuck Taylor basketball sneaker are suing 31 firms for trade mark infringement. Converse alleges that the companies concerned have imitated their popular design. The company has now filed lawsuits in New York and the International Trade Commission against the likes of Ralph Lauren and retailers and manufacturers based in Canada, Japan, China, Australia, and Italy.

Converse is claiming that some of the core elements of the Chuck Taylor sneaker are being copied by these companies. These core elements include:
• The toe cap
• Toe bumper
• Top stripe
• Mid stripe.
All four of these core elements are trademarked and according to Converse have not changed since 1932.

Converse has said that in the past six years they have served about 180 cease and desist letters to retailers selling copied Chuck Taylor sneakers in order to protect its brand. Converse chief executive Jim Calhoun told the Times “We continue to see sort of an explosion, if you will, an increase in knockoff activity. Cease-and-desist letters aren’t enough”
As such Converse are now suing for monetary damages and are also seeking to ban import and sales of the infringed shoes. The main priority for Converse is to get the look a likes off the shelves and with this in mind Converse is pursuing a separate complaint with the International Trade Commission, which has powers to stop any shoes considered to be counterfeit from entering the country.

Sharon Daboul trade mark attorney at EIP has said “whilst imitation can be seen as a form of flattery in the fashion world, if Converse do not take infringement seriously, they will find that their trademark has been eroded and is liable to cancellation. If it cannot enforce the trade mark, it becomes worthless”
Daboul further added that “To succeed, it will have to prove that the Chuck Taylor shoe is recognised as a Converse product. It will have to show, with evidence that the shoe design is distinctive and famous. The Court will have to be convinced that consumers would be confused into purchasing a competitor’s imitation shoe when they meant to buy a Converse shoe or at least into thinking that the product had been authorized or endorsed by Converse”

Written by Fozia Cheychi a Work experience studentÂ

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