Vans accuses Walmart of 'doubling down' on copycat shoe sales

2 minute read

Shoes and backpack of Vans are seen in a shop window in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso

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  • March court order blocked Walmart from selling alleged Vans 'knockoffs'
  • Vans said Walmart still sells infringing shoes, introduced new copycats

(Reuters) - Vans Inc told a California federal court Friday that Walmart Inc has continued to sell shoes that unlawfully mimic its designs despite a court order, and that the retail giant had introduced new shoes that copy Vans' even more closely.

Vans asked the court to fine Walmart $3,000 per day for violating the March order until it stops selling the allegedly infringing shoes.

Walmart said in a statement on Monday that it "took appropriate action and removed the inventory in question when the matter was brought to our attention." The company said it would oppose Vans' motion.

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Vans and its attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Costa Mesa, California-based Vans' shoes first gained fame in the 1970s among skateboarders in southern California, and it has since become a global brand owned by Denver-based VF Corp.

Vans sued Walmart last year, accusing the retailer of selling "knockoff" shoes that ape the designs of "virtually all" of its best-selling shoes.

Walmart told the court in January that the designs were ineligible for trademark protection and that its shoes were not likely to cause customer confusion. Walmart also said that a preliminary ban on sales of the shoes would cost it tens of millions of dollars.

U.S. District Judge David Carter later awarded Vans a preliminary injunction. Carter said Walmart's shoes had some "striking similarities" to Vans' designs, and that Vans would be irreparably harmed without the ban.

Vans told the court Friday that Walmart was "doubling down" with new shoes that are "even more similar" to its designs. It also said that Walmart was still selling other shoes that had been banned by the order.

Vans' court filing said Walmart has told the company it would stop selling the infringing shoes but "has not shown that it is actually putting its words into action."

The case is Vans Inc v. Walmart Inc, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 8:21-cv-01876.

For Vans: Nick Hoffman, Tanya Greene, and Lucy Wheatley of McGuireWoods

For Walmart: Lawrence Iser of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley, Anthony Lo Cicero of Amster Rothstein & Ebenstein

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from Walmart.)

Read more:

Vans wins temporary ban on sales of Walmart's 'knockoff' sneakers

Vans sues Walmart over alleged sneaker knockoffs

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com