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Converse sues to kick out Chuck Taylor copycats




Nike says it plans to sue 31 companies for copyright infringement including Walmart, Skechers and Kmart. It also plans on filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission that, if successful, could prevent offending models from coming into the country.
Nike says it plans to sue 31 companies for copyright infringement including Walmart, Skechers and Kmart. It also plans on filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission that, if successful, could prevent offending models from coming into the country.
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From its rubber toe cap to the black stripes lining its ankle-high canvas body, Converse’s “Chuck Taylor” model shoe is one of the most recognizable on the market, selling nearly a billion pairs since its debut in 1917. Of course, a brand this popular is bound to have imitators, but now parent company Nike says that it plans to take 31 copy cats to court for blatant trademark infringement.

Mega distributors Walmart, Kmart and Skechers are just some of companies that will be served. In addition, Converse plans on filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission that, if successful, could prevent offending models from coming into the country.

But legal experts say that it could be an uphill battle for the shoe manufacturer. In an interview with the New York Times, Professor Polk Wagner of the University of Pennsylvania Law School explained, “It can’t just be that consumers like your design. It can’t just be that your design is different or novel or interesting. It has to be that customers associate the design with the source of the design.”

What are the standards used to determine a copycat? Why is Converse doing this? Why do you believe that their odds of success are pretty low? Have you ever purchased a pair of Converse look-alikes? What did you notice about their quality? Do you have an old pair of Chuck Taylors in the closet? If so, how long have you worn them?

Guest:

Polk Wagner, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School