12 July 2022TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Sportswear giant sues rival over TMs and patented tech

Litigation focuses on ‘Nitro’ and design patents used in making soles for running shoes.

Puma has sued Brooks Sports, alleging that its rival infringed its ‘Nitro’ trademark in advertising, alongside a design patent by copying a foam-moulding technology used in running shoes.

Puma filed the complaint at the US District Court for the Southern District of Indianapolis on Friday, July 8.

Top-five-selling brand

The lawsuit alleged that Brooks' had infringed Puma’s trademarks by advertising for sneakers with nitrogen-infused soles, and had engaged in unfair competition practices.

The action seeks a permanent injunction and monetary damages stemming from Brooks’ infringement of Puma’s Nitro trademark and its patent, US number D897,075.

According to the complaint, Puma has been using its Nitro trademark on footwear since at least March 2021.

After the launch of its Nitro line of running shoes, they have become Puma’s top-selling running shoes in the US and an overall top-five-selling brand of Puma footwear in the US.

In late 2021, Puma said that it had become aware that Brooks was using Nitro to advertise its running shoes, and sent a cease and desist letter to the rival sportswear maker.

Patented designs

After Brooks confirmed receipt of the letter, Puma claimed that it then engaged with Brooks in an attempt to resolve the dispute amicably and avoid litigation, but that Brooks refused the settlement terms.

Puma also holds that after its ’075 patent issued, Brooks introduced the “Aurora BL” shoe that adopted the German company’s patented design, which is now being sold in connection with infringing uses of Pumas’s Nitro mark.

“Brooks’ infringing Aurora BL shoe has adopted every aspect of the claimed design in Puma’s ’075 patent and has an overall appearance that is substantially the same in the eyes of the ordinary observer,” said the complaint.

This development comes after sneaker maker Skechers also sued Brooks last month for trademark infringement in Los Angeles over the use of the numeral "5" on some of its running shoes.

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