Reebok International has filed a lawsuit against Nike Inc. for allegedly copying its patented technology in sneakers now on store shelves. Reebok received a patent in January for collapsible or â€œflexible soleâ€ technology allowing shoes to be folded into a more compact form for packaging or to save space while travelling. The athletic footwear and apparel company claims that 11 Nike shoes marketed under various â€œFreeâ€ product names incorporate that technology and therefore infringe on its patent, according to documents filed yesterday in federal district court in Tyler, Texas.
â€œWe will act to protect our research and development efforts whenever companies try to claim Reebok technology as their own,â€ Diana Wainrib, Reebok’s chief counsel, said in a statement. Former Reebok footwear designer Andrew Gillespie, now vice president of global sport, footwear and apparel for Reebok, designed the technology in question, and Reebok applied for the patent in 2002. The technology enables the company to dispense sneakers in vending machines.
â€œWe are evaluating the claims related to this very recently issued U.S. patent and any potential limited application to the successful Nike Free product,â€ Nike said in a statement. Reebok filed the lawsuit in an east Texas court that a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP study ranked as the second most favourable in the nation for patent lawsuits, according to Bloomberg News. Inventors and patent owners have won jury verdicts 90 percent of the time there since 1994.