Boston Business Journal

Rival shoe giants Nike, New Balance face off over shoe technology

Two rival shoe giants are facing off in a lawsuit filed by Oregon-based Nike, Inc.

Nike is suing Boston-based New Balance Athletics, claiming that the company used Nike technology without authorization on its shoes.

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The complaint, which was filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts, argues that New Balance copied Nike’s “Flyknit technology,” which is a method for designing and manufacturing shoe uppers—the part that covers the upper portion of the shoe.

On Nike's website, it says that the Flyknit technology uses "high-strength fibers to create lightweight uppers with targeted areas of support, stretch and breathability." Nike claims in its complaint that New Balance is using this technology on several of its shoes, including soccer and running shoes.

Oregon-based Nike also sued California-based Skechers on Monday for similar reasons. It's previously gone after companies such as Puma, Adidas, and lululemon for patent infringement. Adidas and Puma settled their lawsuits, according to Reuters, but the case against lululemon is still ongoing.

A New Balance spokesperson told the Business Journal that the company "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." The company said that it will "vigorously defend ourselves against Nike’s attempts to enforce its patents beyond their lawful scope.”

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