Sketchers Website Adds to Consumer Confusion Over “Knockoff” Adidas Stan Smiths

On February 12, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon enjoined Skechers from selling three styles of shoes until the court deals with Adidas’ trademark and trade dress infringement claims.  Although Adidas has not registered their designs for trademark, the court found that their trade dress was sufficiently distinctive to be protectable.  Skechers announced their intent to appeal the ruling “in order to ensure that our footwear designers retain the freedom to use common design elements that have long been in the public domain,” but the court was concerned with more than common design elements.  Skechers appeared to intentionally be creating as association between their shoes and an iconic Adidas’ design.

One of the allegedly infringed designed was of Adidas’ “Stan Smith” tennis shoes, which saw a surge in popularity in 2015.  The court relied on the cultural appeal and recognizability of the iconic design of the sneakers and rejected the idea that the distinctive elements of Stan Smiths were functional.  Visually, Judge Hernández found the Skechers Onix to be indistinguishable from Adidas’ classic “Stan Smith” design.  Furthermore, the court found that Skechers’ conduct was evidence of the sneaker’s distinctiveness, particularly their website programming and coding choices.  Skechers appears to have harnessed consumers’ interest in Stan Smiths to sell their own shoes online by programing their website to lead searches for Adidas’ Stan Smith to the page selling their Onix design.  To Judge Hernández, minor differences in design—the number and direction of the stripes and the shade of green on the heel of the overall white sneaker—were not significant enough to “alter the overall impression that the Skechers shoe is a knockoff of the Stan Smith.”

Kat Greene, “Adidas Wins Bid To Block Skechers ‘Knockoffs’ Sales,” LAW360 (Feb. 12, 2016, 8:42 PM),

Anandashankar Mazumdar, “Adidas Gets Preliminary Injunction Against Skechers,” 91 Pat. Trademark & Copyright J. (BNA) No. 22494, at 1130 (Feb. 19, 2016)