Skechers sues Hermès for patent infringement in a fight over comfort

Dive Brief:

  • Adding to the growing list of companies it’s been in court with, Skechers filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against luxury powerhouse Hermès International over the sneaker brand’s Massage Fit sole, according to a press release and court documents. 
  • Skechers is specifically suing over the soles in Hermès’ Eclair and Envol shoes that were released in 2022, and run from around $800 to $940. The claim says the sneakers’ wavy mid- and under-soles infringe on patent numbers D965,263 and D925,183, which were issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Oct. 4 of this year and July 20, 2021, respectively. 
  • The court claim filed shows Skechers is requesting a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages. 

Dive Insight:

Skechers is a seasoned plaintiff and isn’t a stranger to being a defendant either. 

Over the past several years, Skechers has sued other brands including Brooks and Easy Spirit over trademark infringement, which have since been settled according to reporting from Footwear News. Skechers has also been on the receiving end of multiple Nike lawsuits and one from Adidas.

Diagram of patented Skechers sole next to Hermes Eclair sneaker
Skechers is alleging patent infringement of its Massage Fit soles.
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

This latest move separates itself from the pack by being a claim against a brand that focuses on high-priced goods, such as a document holder costing $10,300. Hermès did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

“Skechers invests tremendous resources into research and development to introduce fresh, unique and exciting footwear technology to its customers year in and year out,” a Skechers spokesperson said in a statement. “It is disappointing that a company of Hermès’ reputation and standing has chosen to copy and infringe Skechers’ patented designs. While Skechers always prefers to compete in the marketplace rather than the court room, the Company has no choice but to seek legal recourse when competitors blatantly tread on our rights.”

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In Hermes’ third-quarter earnings reported this week, the luxury retailer showed sales were up 24% based on constant exchange rates. Chief Financial Officer Eric du Halgouet told reporters on a call this week that the brand will raise prices higher by 5% to 10% starting in January, according to reporting by Fortune. 

As for Skechers, its second-quarter results reported in July revealed the company reached a quarterly sales record of $1.87 billion, up 12.4% year over year. This follows activist investor Tremblant Capital Group taking a stake in the sneaker brand last year, after which four board members departed. 

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