German Court Blocks Adidas in Battle with Nike over New Knit Shoes

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Footwear technology in dispute: Nike’s Flyknit vs. Adidas’ Primeknit

Beaverton, OR—Nike is claiming victory in a first round battle with athletic footwear rival Adidas over recently introduced knitted footwear that both companies have described as a major technological advance in athletic footwear.

On Monday, the District Court in Nuremberg, Germany, granted Nike’s request for an interim injunction against Adidas AG’s “adizero primeknit” footwear which Nike contends is a knockoff of its Nike “Flyknit” shoe introduced in February.

When Nike introduced its Flyknit shoe—a technology four years in the making—the company heralded it as an advanced technology whereby footwear is constructed without seams making it lighter weight and more efficiently produced with less waste.

“Nike has a strong heritage of innovation and leadership in footwear design and development,” Nike said in a statement. “Our patents are the foundation of that leadership and we protect them vigorously.”

Meanwhile, Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Adidas introduced its Primeknit shoe in July ahead of the Summer Olympics, touting it as an advance in footwear that is “stitched together without seams, making it lighter and less waste-producing.”

Adidas says its Primeknit technology was under development for three years although it was introduced five months after Nike introduced its Flyknit footwear.

Both brands capitalized on the launch of their shoes during the Olympics. Adidas made sure athletes from retired tennis star Steffi Graf to the entire Gold Medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team were photographed with the shoes.

Nike, which called Flyknit a technological breakthrough that could provide a boost in its profit margins, made sure its Flyknit footwear was prominently featured on the track and on medal stands at the Olympics.

Nike claims a patent infringement and now will seek a permanent injunction against Adidas.

A spokeswoman for Adidas U.S., which is based in Portland, Oregon, said, “We have just received the court papers and are reviewing them. Please understand that as a general rule, we don’t comment on pending litigation.”

A spokesman for the Nuremberg court said the injunction blocks Adidas from making or selling its “adizero primeknit” in Germany, and relates to the material as well as the manufacturing process of the shoe. There is no time limit to the injunction, but both parties may appeal the ruling, the court spokesman added.