The indictment states that Adidas copied FlyKnit technology to manufacture a wide range of Primeknit sneakers.
Nike has petitioned a US trade agency to block imports of a wide range of Primeknit sneakers from Adidas AG , claiming that they copy the Oregon company’s proprietary inventions for a knitted fabric that reduces waste without loss in performance.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday with the International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, seeks to ban imports of a wide range of sneakers, including the adidas by Stella McCartney Ultraboost, the Pharrell William Superstar Primeknit and the Terrex Free Hiker hiking shoes.
Nike’s FlyKnit technology, which uses specialized yarn from recycled and reclaimed materials to create a sock-like fit across the upper of the shoe, Nike said was the result of more than a decade of research , nearly all conducted in United States, and “represented the first major technological innovation in shoe upper in decades.”
FlyKnit was first introduced prior to the London 2012 Olympics and has been adopted by “basketball great LeBron James, international soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and world record marathoner Eliud Kipchoge,” Nike said in the lawsuit.
What is flyknit technology?
Shaffer worked directly with yarn manufacturers to create lightweight and durable polyester fibers . These fine strands are woven with precision to conform to the shape of the foot, eliminating the usual layers, creating a framework that can be more open or more closed depending on the specific needs of each model.
The Nike Flyknit VapormaxIt has a fabric with a very open cut in the toe area, where it needs a lot of breathability and more closed in the heel area, where it needs more support. The Nike Epic React Flyknit , a shoe designed for more severe workouts, has a contained fit throughout the upper. The meaning of Flyknit comes from Fly (to fly), for its reduced weight and Knit (fabric) for its manufacturing method.
Adidas and its related companies “have given up on independent innovation” and instead focused on efforts to invalidate Nike’s patents for nearly a decade, Nike contends.
“And while Adidas unsuccessfully challenged Nike’s patents, it continued to use Nike’s proprietary technology without permission,” Nike said in the lawsuit.
“Nike is now forced to bring this action to defend its investments in innovation to protect its technology by stopping the unauthorized use of Adidas . “
Adidas said it is analyzing the lawsuit and “we will defend ourselves against the allegations.”
“Our Primeknit technology is the result of years of dedicated research and shows our commitment to sustainability,” said Mandy Nieber, Adidas spokesperson.
Several of Nike’s patents, including two of the six in the ITC lawsuit, have been challenged by companies such as Adidas. Nike said it came forward only because it refused to agree not to sue the German company.
Nike has been aggressive in protecting its FlyKnit and other footwear inventions. One lawsuit against Puma SE was settled in January 2020 and others against Skechers USA Inc. were settled in November.
The US trade agency is a popular forum for companies looking to derail rivals in the world’s largest market. The commission works faster than most courts, final decisions typically taking between 15 and 18 months. Not only can it block products at the US border, but it can stop sales of products already brought into the country, an order that is more difficult to get in a district court.