Nike asks U.S. agency to block Adidas shoe imports, citing patents

The Nike swoosh logo is seen outside the store on 5th Avenue in New York, New York, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
  • Complaint says Adidas shoes infringe Flyknit patents
  • Nike says its Flyknit technology allows lightweight shoes, reduces waste
  • Adidas lost bid to cancel two Nike patents last year

(Reuters) - Nike has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to block imports of several types of Adidas shoes that it says infringe patents covering its lightweight Flyknit design technology.

In a Wednesday complaint, Nike said 49 of its German rival's shoe designs that use Adidas' allegedly similar Primeknit technology infringe six Nike patents.

Adidas failedin an attempt to invalidate two of the Nike patents at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last year.

An Adidas spokesperson said in an email that the company was analyzing the complaint and would defend itself against the allegations, adding its Primeknit technology "resulted from years of dedicated research."

Nike and its attorney Christopher Renk of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nike said in the complaint that its Flyknit technology is a novel way to manufacture upper parts of shoes, allowing it to create footwear that "excels in performance, design and aesthetics while reducing materials and waste."

Nike uses the technology to make lifestyle shoes and athletic shoes for sports including running, basketball, and soccer. The company says superstar athletes like LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo wear Flyknit footwear.

The Adidas shoes that allegedly infringe the patents include lifestyle shoes, football cleats, running shoes, and hiking shoes, and are parts of its Ultraboost, Terrex, and X Speedflow lines, among others.

According to Nike, Adidas introduced Primeknit five months after Nike announced Flyknit in 2012.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Knitted Footwear, No. 337-TA-3580, U.S. International Trade Commission.

For Nike: Christopher Renk of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Deanna Okun of Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg.

For Adidas: N/A

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with a response from Adidas.)

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at