Skechers is suing Hermès International and its subsidiary Hermès of Paris for patent infringement related to its proprietary Massage Fit sole technology, claiming that the luxury goods giant incorporated select features into its Éclair and Envol sneakers.
In 2022, Hermès introduced the two footwear styles, which Skechers says include midsole and undersole design elements that infringe many of its Massage Fit technology patents. The Massage Fit sole designs are included in Skechers’ Go Walk slip-on series, as well as various other styles.
With regards to the claims, Skechers said the Éclair and Envol styles have “substantially the same infringing sole” as the Massage Fit.
Skechers claims that the defendant infringed on two separate patents—identified as the ’263 patent for the shoe midsole periphery and the ’183 patent for the shoe outsole bottom. Due to the infringements, “Skechers has suffered, is suffering, and will continue to suffer irreparable injury for which Skechers has no adequate remedy at law,” the complaint said. With the suit, the company believes it is entitled to recover damages from the defendant and the total profit derived from said alleged infringements, “all in an amount to be proven at trial.”
Both the Éclair and Envol sneakers infringe on both patents, the plaintiff said. The Hermès shoes retail for $800-$890. Meanwhile, the Skechers Go Walk Massage Fit costs just $109.
The footwear company filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
“Skechers invests tremendous resources into research and development to introduce fresh, unique and exciting footwear technology to its customers year in and year out,” said a Skechers spokesperson in a company statement. “It is disappointing that a company of Hermès’ reputation and standing has chosen to copy and infringe Skechers’ patented designs. While Skechers always prefers to compete in the marketplace rather than the court room, the company has no choice but to seek legal recourse when competitors blatantly tread on our rights.”
Hermès did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Skechers asked the court to permanently stop Hermès from “continued infringement” on its two patents, and is seeking an award for damages and attorney’s fees, according to the complaint.
This wouldn’t be the first time this year Skechers has gotten in a tussle with another brand over intellectual property rights. It initially sent Brooks a cease-and-desist request for incorporating an italicized version of the number “5” within various sneaker styles, claiming that the “5” looked too similar to Skechers’ well-known “S.” Skechers won in the E.U. after a German court granted its injunction request.
The companies eventually reached an out-of-court settlement in September after Skechers asked the judge for dismissal. The offending sneaker styles, including the Levitate 5, Levitate GTS 5, Levitate StealthFit 5, Levitate StealthFit 5 GTS, Revel 5, and the Caldera 5 still bear the italicized “5.”
In December 2021, Skechers settled a dispute with Easy Spirit over “direct copies” of two Skechers silhouettes—the Skechers’ Go Walk walking slip-on shoe and the Skechers D’Lite sneaker. The month prior, Skechers and Nike settled three lawsuits, marking an end to some years-long court battles between the two shoe titans over claims of trademark infringement on the part of Skechers.
Skechers has also sued Reebok, Fila, Steve Madden and other shoemakers in the past for infringing “Go Walk” design patents, all in disputes that were later settled.
Infringement suits certainly aren’t exclusive to Skechers. Brooks is currently in another trademark and design patent infringement suit with another footwear giant, Puma, with the latter accusing it of infringing on the use of the term “Nitro” in the promotion of select sneakers. Puma also suggested in its complaint that Brooks copied its foam molding technology. Brooks fired back with claims of its own that Puma is attempting to bully Brooks, and that the company has “no rights to the word ‘nitro.’”