Converse shoes have been around for over 100 years. The shoe company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse who wanted to make winterized rubber-soled shoes for women, children and men. The company was a success and has been able to survive war, bankruptcy and new management (Nike). The Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker (circa 1917s) has a deep history in America, and can strike up images of old school basketball players, high school greasers, and punk rockers that are embedded into American culture.
However, on October 14th, Converse filed a lawsuit against 31 retailers and manufacturers with the U.S. District Court and International Trade Commission. Their defendants include huge retailers like H&M, Kmart, and Fila, as well as international companies in China and Japan.
Converse is addressing how these retailers and manufacturers styled their toe bumpers and caps on their sneakers. They are also taking issue with the upper and lower stripes along the bottom of the shoes. It happens that these four elements were trademarked by Converse, and that has not changed since 1932.
Since the shoe has been around for almost 100 years, this has given other brands plenty of time to create knock-offs of the design. This, in turn, makes it harder for Converse to claim its Chuck Taylor design as a distinctive look. Also, since the shoe has been around so long and has become a part of American Culture, Converse is using this argument stating the design of the shoe has taken on a secondary meaning for consumers. The brand has reached an almost iconic status.
Converse has amped its efforts to protect its trademarks, especially with the aid of Nike. The company has sent over 180 cease-and-desist letter to its competitors, and filed a lawsuit against the Dallas Cowboys over its star logo.
With sneaker sales rising, it is understandable that Converse wants to protect itself from companies trying to mimic their style. The Chuck Taylor styled shoe has been the top selling product of the company for decades. Ensuring authenticity of the brand and catching trademark infringement is important for Converse to continue to survive in future fashion markets.
How do you think the cases will end? Do you think Converse sued all at once for publicity?