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Adidas Hits Out at Fashion Nova in Sneaker Spat

Adidas filed another infringement complaint against fast-fashion brand Fashion Nova earlier this month.

This time, the sportswear company is alleging Fashion Nova infringed on its Stan Smith sneaker trade dress. The complaint also argues the retailer’s actions constitute unfair competition and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Adidas previously filed a complaint against Fashion Nova in May 2019, alleging it was “actively and intentionally” infringing on its three-stripe trademark in connection with “numerous” apparel items. That lawsuit is currently in the expert discovery phase.

Adidas claims that a Fashion Nova sneaker [right] infringes on its Stan Smith [left] trade dress.
Adidas claims that a Fashion Nova sneaker [right] infringes on its Stan Smith [left] trade dress. Adidas
In the time since that original complaint, Fashion Nova has begun selling a sneaker that Adidas claims “imitates every element” of its Stan Smith trade dress. Both shoes sport rows of perforations along the side—three in Adidas’ case to mimic its’ signature three-stripe mark, and four in Fashion Nova’s—and a defined stitching enclosing those perforations. Fashion Nova’s sneaker also features a green heel patch. The Stan Smith’s heel patch “often is green,” Adidas noted.

The German sneaker company previously enjoined Skechers from selling a similar shoe. “Any reasonable observer [could] see the striking similarities between the Skechers Onix and the adidas Stan Smith,” the court ruled. Like Fashion Nova’s sneaker, the enjoined shoe featured rows of perforations, a defined stitching enclosing those perforations and a green heel patch. In Skechers’ case, though, the perforations were slanted in the opposite direction. In Adidas’ view, Fashion Nova’s sneaker “is even closer to the Stan Smith trade dress than the version Skechers sold six years ago.”

Adidas argued that Fashion Nova's sneaker is even closer to its Stan Smith trade dress than the Skechers sneaker it successfully fought in court years ago.
Adidas argued that Fashion Nova’s sneaker is even closer to its Stan Smith trade dress than the Skechers sneaker it successfully fought in court years ago. Adidas

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Adidas argues that Fashion Nova “knowingly, willfully, intentionally and maliciously adopted and used substantially indistinguishable and confusingly similar imitations” of its Stan Smith trade dress. These actions, it suggests, were intended to “mislead and deceive consumers into believing the footwear was manufactured, sold, authorized, or licensed by Adidas.”

The complaint seeks injunctive relief, as well as Fashion Nova’s profits, actual damages, enhanced profits and damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. It additionally claims that Fashion Nova’s “imitation” of its Stan Smith sneaker “has caused and is likely to cause” injury to Adidas and the public and that therefore the company is also entitled to punitive damages. It also asked Fashion Nova be ordered to deliver all related footwear and materials for impoundment and destruction.

In January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that Fashion Nova would be required to pay $4.2 million for misrepresenting shopper sentiments about its apparel and accessories. The settlement arrived less than a year after the FTC sent out more than $6.5 million in payments to Fashion Nova customers affected by unmet promises of fast shipping. Also last year, the e-tailer settled a year-old trademark dispute with Playboy over its bunny costumes.

These legal troubles do not appear to be hurting Fashion Nova’s bottom line, however. Earlier this month, The Los Angeles Times reported that founder and CEO Richard Saghian purchased an L.A. mega-mansion for $126 million—$141 million including the 12 percent auction fee. The 105,000-square-foot home is considered the largest modern home in the U.S., according to USA Today. It was originally listed for $500 million.