It’s the Swoosh brand vs. Skechers.
Not only is Nike taking Skechers to task for allegedly copying some of its newest footwear designs in a complaint filed in the Central District of California on Monday, the Portland, Ore.-based powerhouse is throwing shade at Skechers’ entire design process—claiming it regularly creates “Skecherized versions” of competitor’s products in order to unlawfully claim market share.
In the complaint, Nike’s legal team attempted to outline a pattern of behavior endemic to Skechers products, suggesting it is well known that the footwear brand’s designs are frequently lifted from popular products and then downgraded in order to meet a lower price point.
Nike’s complaint alleged that Skechers has recently ripped off the Nike Air Max 270 and Nike Vapormax designs.
“Skechers…markets and distributes athletic footwear. But instead of innovating its own designs and technologies, Skechers often copies the successful products of others,” the complaint read. “As one commentator explained, ‘it’s hard to mask that [Skechers] is a copy-cat’ that ‘has blatantly knocked off’ the popular designs of others like Nike.”
Nike pointed to the Skech-Air 92 sneaker series as a direct rip-off of the Nike Air Max 270, one of its most popular styles. The athletic brand has asked the court for a judgment that prevents the sale of these shoes and forces Skechers to pay out damages up to the total profit of the Skech-Air 92 product line—including any sales made during the processing of the complaint.
In the allegation, Nike also said that the culture at Skechers is largely responsible for this behavior and that employees are regularly encouraged to hide it on orders from upper management, including Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg.
“Skechers contends it merely takes inspiration from competitor products, which it calls ‘Skecherizing.’ But that argument is belied by Skechers’ own documents,” Nike’s lawyers wrote. “In a prior lawsuit, a court found Skechers uses code words in its internal documents to attempt to shield the documents from discovery. The documents Skechers hoped to hide from discovery in that case showed Skechers employees holding prototype shoes next to competitor shoes with detailed instructions on how to transform the prototypes into ‘exact copies’ of the competitor shoes.”
Two separate Nike lawsuits against Skechers are still pending judgment. Though footwear brands tend to have litigious bent, Skechers has been sued multiple times by Adidas and has even drawn the ire of smaller brands, like the firm behind Bernie Mev footwear.
Skechers delivered record net sales of $1.259 billion in its most recent quarterly financial report.