Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers loose trademark battle against Wal-Mart, Sketchers and New Balance. The U. S International Trade Commission(ITC) invalidated Converse’s trademark for chuck’s stripes, toe cap and toe bumper.
In 2014 converse had sued 31 companies for infringing its Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers. Amongst the sued companies were Ralph Lauren, Fila and H&M , all of whom chose to settle out of court, leaving Wal-Mart, Sketchers and New Balance going into trial. Converse had claimed that all the companies had infringed at least one of the three trademarks, namely, “the stripes going around the shoe, the rubber toe bumper, and the toe cap”. The ITC last November had validated all the three trademarks. In its recent judgement, the ITC overturned its previous judgement and held that only the diamond patterned outsole on the shoe was a valid trademark. It struck down the trademark that covered the midsole design of the shoe also.
The court held that converse has no Exclusive Rights on the midsole design as it isn’t distinctive and nor has it acquired secondary meaning through extensive use. Implying that, the Sketchers’ Twinkle Toes and BOBS shoes would not infringe Converse. The court also affirmed that, the design between the two was prominent, and that there would not be any likelihood of confusion amongst consumers.
The ITC, though has ordered an exclusion of any non- Converse shoe with the diamond pattern outsole to enter the US or to be sold in the market. The present partial win for Converse may just be the first major step that was required for sneaker design protection under the trademark law.