Iconic sneaker company Converse brand is suing 31 brands, including Fila, Ed Hardy, Ralph Lauren, Skechers and Walmart for copyright infringement of selling copied versions of its infamous Chuck Taylor shoe. The shoe, easily recognisable for its rubber sole and canvas fabric,has seen many interpretations by other brands.
Converse claims its trademarks are infringedConverse, which is owned by Nike, filed lawsuits in New York and with the International Trade Commission. It claims the companies are infringing on trademarks that cover the look of the shoe, including core elements such as black stripes, recognizable ankle star, a rubber toe topper, and the diamond pattern on the sole.
Converse says look-alike Chuck Taylor have become more common in recent years, and says it has served about 180 ‘cease and desist’ letters related to the issue since 2008.
“The goal really is to stop this action,” Jim Calhoun, Converse chief executive, told the New York Times. “I think we’re quite fortunate here to be in the possession of what we would consider to be an American icon.”
Consumers the world over are likely to agree: in its 2014 fiscal year, Converse recorded about 1.7 billion of Nike’s 28 billion in sales. Converse estimates it has sold about 1 billion shoes worldwide with its Chuck Taylor trademark features.
“From a revenue standpoint, it is one of their most profitable businesses,” Jim Duffy, a sports and lifestyle brands analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, told the newspaper. Duffy also added that Converse’s profits benefit from having so many variations of a single type of shoe.
“The general rule of thumb in footwear, the more volume you do over a single footbed, the better the margin,” he added.
Image: Converse, Kristen Stewart in Converse