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Dive Brief:

  • In the latest legal battle between two of the largest athletics retailers, Adidas filed a federal lawsuit against Nike on Friday alleging it is knowingly infringing on nine Adidas patents. Adidas is asking that the court award it “damages in an amount sufficient to compensate” for the patent infringements, and an injunction against Nike to stop using the patented technology listed.
  • Adidas’ suit calls out the Nike Run Club, Nike Training Club and SNKRS mobile apps as violating patented technology. The athletic company also claims Nike had pre-suit knowledge of the patent infringement based on it citing Adidas patents within Nike’s own U.S. patents and applications.
  • The latest legal action follows a U.S. International Trade Commission complaint from Nike in December asking for several Adidas shoe imports to be blocked because they infringed on a patent for Nike’s Flyknit technology.

Dive Insight:

The continued rivalry between the brands shows they believe owning technological innovation is key to remaining competitive with each other, with Adidas claiming it was the first in the industry to bring these advancements to athletes.

“Adidas has long been a leader in mobile technology, including technology related to mobile fitness and mobile purchases. Adidas was the first in the industry to comprehensively bring data analytics to athletes,” Adidas said in the lawsuit.

A press representative for Nike told Retail Dive via email that the company “doesn’t comment on pending litigation.”

Nike’s digital strategy, which includes the mobile apps listed in the lawsuit, has been a huge success for the brand. The apps drove engagement and digital sales in 2020, with digital revenue growing by 84% in the quarter ending Nov. 30 of that year. Digital revenue was also doing well according to Nike’s earnings report this March, increasing 19% compared to the prior year.

In May, Adidas announced an expanded wholesale partnership with Foot Locker, following the news that Nike would scale back its business with the retailer. Adidas revealed a new long-term partnership with Foot Locker, projecting $2 billion in sales from the collaboration by 2025. Foot Locker has since stated its plan to diversify its partnerships with brands other than Nike is working “exceptionally well.”

Both athletics brands have also been stepping further into experimental digital spaces as well. In April, Adidas launched personality-based metaverse avatars. In December, Nike acquired NFT sneaker studio Rtfkt.



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