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Vans Hits Primark With its Latest Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Vans is cracking down on alleged copycats of its most famous vintage designs.

Last week, Vans Inc. filed a lawsuit in California against Target Corp. for an alleged violation of the patent on its “Old Skool” line of footwear, and on Friday, the footwear brand filed an additional lawsuit against Primark for a similar litany of alleged offenses.

The 32-page report Vans filed in a New York federal court claims that Primark committed patent infringement by selling footwear that too closely resembled Vans designs. Specifically, Vans called out Primark products that resembled both its high-top “Sk8-Hi” and low-top”Old Skool” designs, the latter of which was the subject of the lawsuit filed against Target Corp.

Vans said Primark’s infringing products possess many of the same features found on its shoes, including the “jazz stripe” that Vans also alleged Target stole, demonstrating the company’s intentions to defend the embellishment as a defining trademark of the brand. Additionally, Vans pointed to the waffle sole design of Primark’s shoes and the padded cuffs on the Sk8-Hi uppers.

Other design infringements include the white rubberized midsole, contrast line around the outer toe and visible stitching of the Sk8-Hi silhouette.

Primark Hit by Latest Patent Infringement
Provided via filed complaint

Additionally, Vans provided evidence that Primark was using its “peerless” reputation for lifestyle and active shoes, especially among skate culture, to sell Primark products. The complaint included photographic evidence of Primark influencers trying to appeal to skateboarders, sometimes including the hashtag #primarkvans or #fakevans. The tendency for those on social media to refer to infringing footwear as “fake vans” was also a cornerstone of the lawsuit against Target.

In the complaint, Vans claimed “Primark’s influencers compare the infringing products to Vans’ authentic products and refer to and promote the infringing products as indistinguishable, ‘fake’ or ‘duplicate’ Vans, or sometimes as just ‘the Vans.'”

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For relief, Vans asked the court to immediately force Primark to cease selling the offending products and to recall and destroy all remaining stock that could be considered to have a “confusingly similar imitation of Vans trademarks and trade dress.” Echoing the wishes of the complaint against Target, Vans also requested that the court grant it all profits gained by Primark from selling the imitations and to be rewarded any lost sales it might have made otherwise.

In September, Vans Inc. announced a target of $5 billion in annual revenue by 2023. In October, it revealed that thanks to explosive sales growth of 26 percent for Vans brand products, the brand could be well on its way.