The competition between Nike & Adidas – two of the most renowned names in the sports accessories business – has slowly spilled over from the market into the courtroom. It is not surprising that these two brands, responsible for changing the face of the sports industry through their products, have a clash of conceptual ingenuity. The latest example of this clash being with respect to knitted footwear. In a petition filed before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Adidas contested for the invalidation of two of Nike’s patents pertaining to their Flyknit technology. After hearing the contention and Nike’s defense, the board decided to reject Adidas’ claim. Subsequently, Adidas appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Court, the motion was granted.
Court of Appeals
In the present case, Adidas AG v. Nike Inc, the representatives of Adidas contended that Nike had failed to meet the requirements of patentability on account of the invention being obvious. Nike sued Adidas for patent infringement.
The appeal was challenged by Nike stating that Adidas had no ground to appeal due to lack of injury in fact. That is, a legal injury suffered by the plaintiff upon his legally protected interest can be either economic, non-economic, or both.
The Court held, in order to qualify as a ground of appeal, it is sufficient to show engagement or likelihood of engagement in activities which could lead to infringement. It was further observed that in making such a claim, the burden of proof lies on Adidas and failure to prove such obviousness of the invention vitiated Adidas’ claim. The additional and supplementary claims raised by Adidas, were not backed with adequate evidence or proof. Thus, the Court did not find substance in their arguments.
The Court upheld the validity of Nike’s patents and thus, the latter emerged victorious.
Reported by Anishka Vaishnav, Student Ambassador