The Nike European patent concerns a shoe with a meltable polymer material used in its knitted upper. The technology is used in the Nike Flyknit shoe, melting the knitted yarn together to add reinforcement to the knitted construction, which makes it seamless and very light.
The adiZero Primeknit shoe, which was the subject of the suit, was launched later but had been in production for three years, according to adidas. Pictured is the one-piece upper of the shoe.
The Nuremberg district court lifted an ex parte injunction won by Nike on September 24. Adidas had succeeded in stopping the enforcement of the injunction on October 10.
The case is unusual because sportswear companies are rarely involved in patent suits, despite often owning hundreds of patents over their products.
"That is changing now, as the market becomes more driven by technologies such as this, rather than straight design," comments a lawyer close to the case. "Sportswear increasingly uses advanced materials, chemical compounds and technology built into the products."
It is likened to the automobile industry in Germany, which is rarely the subject of patent cases. Most disputes are settled, end in cross-licensing or "the infringement is merely tolerated",says the lawyer.
Bardehle Pagenberg is representing adidas in the case and Wragge & Co and Prinz & Partner are representing Nike.
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