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Nike, Adidas Settle Competing Patent Lawsuits

Nike and Adidas settled dueling patent lawsuits last week.

The two parties submitted documents to federal courts in Oregon and Texas Aug. 16 and 18, respectively, declaring that they reached a settlement. In both cases, the parties asked the case be dismissed without prejudice, and agreed to bear their own fees and costs. No further details were disclosed.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Adidas said, “The parties resolved the disputes.”

After nearly a decade of back-and-forth legal fights between Nike and Adidas over the former’s Flyknit patents, Nike formally asked the U.S. International Trade Commission in December to block the import of its competitor’s Primeknit footwear. That same day, it filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon alleging Adidas infringed upon nine separate patents.

Nike unveiled its first Flyknit style in February 2012 “after more than a decade of research and development and an investment of more than $100 million,” it claimed in its original suit. The technology uses high-strength fibers to create lightweight, single-piece uppers with targeted areas of support, stretch and breathability.

The Swoosh brand’s suit contended that Adidas forewent “independent innovation” when developing Primeknit, noting that the first Primeknit style arrived just five months after Nike’s inaugural Flyknit sneaker.

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Adidas filed multiple challenges to Nike’s Flyknit patents in the years since its competitor introduced the materials. In two cases that Nike called out in its lawsuit, Adidas allegedly threatened to attempt to invalidate the patents if Nike did not provide it with a covenant not to sue. Adidas followed through on its promise, but eventually lost those challenges.

Nike’s complaint identified four dozen products as “examples of the infringing products,” including 18 variations on Adidas’ Ultraboost sneaker, as well as multiple variations of its Terrex Free Hiker hiking shoes and X Speedflow+ cleats. In January, the USITC announced it would indeed investigate Nike’s patent-infringement claims.

Adidas countered in June with a lawsuit of its own, alleging Nike’s Adapt footwear technology and Run Club, Train Club and SNKRS apps together infringed on nine of its patents.

Adidas argued that each of the applications leading to these nine patents underwent a “thorough examination,” including when many were initially rejected by the patent examiner. It further contended that Nike was aware of its patents, pointing out that the company cited seven of the nine patents in its own patents. Adidas further suggested Nike was aware of “widely reported” litigation between it and Under Armour and Asics. It had asked the court for a permanent injunction and damages.