It can be argued that Converse became an iconic American shoe brand through the sale of its famous Chuck Taylor model. In what appears to have been around forever, is apparently being threatened by foreign counterfeiters that are selling similar shoes in a number of stores across the country.
A Courthouse News report highlighted Converse’s lawsuits against several major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Skechers, Ralph Lauren, H&M and K-Mart. Converse initiated 19 different actions where it claimed that retailers were allowing “knockoff” Chuck Taylors to be sold in their stores. It also claimed that it’s trademark on its shoe was being infringed upon by the lookalikes.
Trademark infringement lawsuits involve a request for remedies for the unauthorized use of a mark that differentiates a product (or service) from others in the market place. Whether a plaintiff will prevail in a trademark infringement lawsuit commonly depends on whether the average consumer would be confused by the defendant’s mark; otherwise known as the “likelihood of confusion” test. So a plaintiff must essentially prove that it had a valid mark, and that the defendant used a similar enough mark so that the average consumer could mistake the defendant’s mark for the plaintiffs.
In addition to trademark infringement, Converse seeks damages based on false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unlawful and deceptive acts by the defendant retailers. It seeks unspecified damages from the retailers, and it is seeking an injunction that would prevent future products from being imported to the U.S.
It remains to be seen whether the Federal Trade Commission will intervene.