Nike and its legal team are not strangers to or afraid of a courtroom fracas — Ja Morant might say they “ain’t ducking no smoke” — and their latest courtroom conflict is centered on both New Balance and Skechers, both of whom, Nike claims, are infringing on its Flyknit patent.
Per a report from Complex, the Swoosh filed separate suits against New Balance and Skechers (in Massachusetts and California, respectively) with documents that show “at least” 21 of New Balance’s purportedly infringing designs and several of Skechers’ own knit creations, some of which can be seen in the court documents below.
Flyknit, which Nike first introduced in 2012 is a shoe technology that takes lightweight-but-durable strands of yarn and weaves them into a seamless upper, a process that the company claims reduces waste by 60% and lowers weight. Apart from its eco-conscious edge, the flexible nature of Flyknit allows it to be micro-engineered, woven in different ways across silhouettes for different sports and activities to provide targeted support and structure. The technology is backed by several patents, the first of which was issued in September 2012.
New Balance and Skechers aren’t the only brands Nike has sued over alleged Flyknit infringement. The Swoosh settled a lawsuit against PUMA in January 2020 and one against adidas in August 2022, and, since January, has been embroiled in a lawsuit with lululemon. Nike has also previously sued Skechers for Flyknit patent infringement, but this is the first time they’ve taken aim at New Balance. In their court filing, Nike claims that in January it contacted New Balance in an attempt to resolve the “issue” but that New Balance has “only escalated the scope of its infringing activities.”
New Balance responded with a statement of their own, saying that Nike was overstepping the boundaries of its patent. “New Balance fully respects competitors’ intellectual property rights, but Nike does not own the exclusive right to design and produce footwear by traditional manufacturing methods that have been used in the industry for decades,” the brand’s statement said. “We will vigorously defend ourselves against Nike’s attempts to enforce its patents beyond their lawful scope.”
Skechers has yet to issue a statement on Nike’s litigation.
Nike wants a federal judge to block New Balance and Skechers from selling shoes that use the “infringing” knit material and has asked for “an award of damages” without specifying a dollar amount.
Stay tuned for more info as the pending lawsuits proceed, and if you’re trying to get some shoe-in’ without the sue-in, check out the latest installment of our Weekly Footwear Drops roundup.