Nike sues New Balance, Skechers for patent infringement over sneaker technology

FILE PHOTO: The Nike swoosh logo is seen outside the store on 5th Ave in New York

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) -Footwear giant Nike filed federal lawsuits on Monday against rivals New Balance and Skechers, accusing them of infringing patents related to Nike's technology for making upper portions of sneakers.

The lawsuits said that several New Balance athletic shoes and Skechers sneakers misuse Nike's patented "Flyknit" technology for running, soccer and basketball shoes.

Nike has previously sued Adidas, Puma and Lululemon for infringing Flyknit patents. Adidas and Puma have settled their lawsuits, while Nike's case against Lululemon is still ongoing.

New Balance said in a statement that it "fully respects competitors' intellectual property rights, but Nike does not own the exclusive right to design and produce footwear by traditional manufacturing methods that have been used in the industry for decades."

Representatives for Nike and Skechers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Monday lawsuits.

Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike's website said that its Flyknit technology "uses high-strength fibers to create lightweight uppers with targeted areas of support, stretch and breathability." The lawsuits said the patented technology allows it to make high-performance uppers with reduced materials and waste.

Nike's complaint against Boston-based New Balance, filed in Massachusetts federal court, said shoes from New Balance's Fresh Foam, FuelCell and other lines violate Nike's patent rights. Nike sued Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers in Los Angeles, claiming that shoes, including Skechers' Ultra Flex and Glide Step brands, infringed on its patents.

Nike asked the courts for an unspecified amount of money damages and court orders permanently blocking New Balance and Skechers from infringing the patents.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by David Bario, Aurora Ellis and Edwina Gibbs)