21 June 2023TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Skechers targets Steve Madden in logo dispute

Shoe brand accuses designer of “malicious and wilful infringement” | Lawsuit argues that logos are virtually identical | Second time in a year that Skechers launches suit over signature mark.

Skechers is suing fashion designer Steve Madden over the alleged infringement of its stylised ‘s’ trademark.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday, June 20 at the US District Court for the Central District of California argued that the logo on Madden’s 'Kennie' sneaker is “confusingly similar” to Skechers' signature mark.

‘Malicious infringement’

The sports shoe retailer accuses its rival of “malicious and wilful infringement”, holding that the logo on the disputed shoe is essentially a stylised ‘s’ of “similar (if not nearly identical) proportions and thicknesses to multiple logos used by Skechers”.

This allegedly infringing logo, it added, rotates slightly counterclockwise and is placed in the same location where Skechers typically places its marks.

Further, Skechers complained that Madden is using this logo on similar products marketed to the same consumers in the same channels—making it highly likely that consumers will be confused about the origins of the sneaker.

In its complaint, Skechers outlined how it is “a multi-billion dollar global leader in the lifestyle and performance footwear industry”, insisting that it has designed, developed, advertised, marketed and sold footwear using its distinctive and famous stylised ‘s’ trademarks for decades.

Immediate ‘recognition’

As a result of this activity, Skechers claims to own 40 federally registered trademarks bearing its ‘s’ marks—registered for use on a variety of platforms and products, including e-commerce, apparel, handbags, and footwear.

“The public, including the media, immediately recognise and associate the individual ‘s’ marks, as well as the family marks of which they are part, with Skechers,” noted the complaint.

“Madden’s misappropriation and infringement of a willful, intentional, and malicious effort to trade on and diminish the goodwill associated with the Skechers ‘s’ marks, which is likely to result in great and irreparable harm to Skechers,” the retailer said.

Skechers is seeking an injunction against Madden, alongside a declaratory judgment of infringement, as well as damages.

The lawsuit marks the second time in the course of a year that Skechers has sued over its signature mark—in June 2022, the retailer sued Brooks Running for infringing through its use of a “5” logo.

Skechers went on to settle the case in September.

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More on this story

27 July 2022   Skechers and Puma have sued Brooks Sports over alleged IP violations | More litigation centring on fair use expected in the outdoor and sportswear sectors | Trademark Modernization Act | NFTs
16 September 2022   The dispute concerned a stylised trademark | German courts had ordered Brooks Sports to cease using the logo in the EU.