Nike Sues Lululemon Over Flyknit Technology

Nike filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Lululemon in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, on Monday, January 30, 2023. Nike alleges that Lululemon’s Chargefeel Mid, Chargefeel Low, Blissfeel, and Strongfeel shoes infringe on three of Nike’s patents related to its Flyknit technology.

Lululemon released the Blissfeel shoe in March 2022. The Blisfeel is Lululemon’s first foray into running shoes for women. Lululemon released the Chargefeel running and training shoe in July 2022. The Strongfeel, a women’s training shoe, was released in the fall of 2022. Nike introduced the Flyknit Racer, a running shoe, in February 2012. Since then, Nike has incorporated its Flyknit technology into training, running, soccer, basketball, and lifestyle shoes. Nike previously sued Adidas, Puma, and Skechers related to its Flyknit patents.

The three Nike Flyknit patents in question are U.S. Patents 8,266,749, issued September 18, 2012; 9,375,046, issued June 28, 2016; and 9,730,484, issued August 15, 2017. The ‘749 patent “is generally directed to a method of manufacturing an article of footwear with a textile element, where the textile element is simultaneously knitted with a surrounding textile structure, and the textile element has a knitted texture that differs from the knitted texture in the surrounding textile structure.” The complaint alleges that Lululemon directly infringes claim 1 of the ‘749 patent by manufacturing its shoes using a process that satisfies all the limitations of claim 1.

The ‘046 patent “is generally directed to an article with a textile element containing a plurality of webbed areas and tubular structures that are adjacent to each other and configured to stretch to move the webbed area from a neutral position to an extended position when force is applied.” The complaint argues that Lululemon directly infringes claim 1 of the ‘046 patent on the Chargefeel Mid shoe.

The ‘484 patent “is generally directed to an article of footwear with an upper including a flat-knitted element with a central portion having a domed, three-dimensional structure configured for extending over the top of a foot and that extends above the plane of a first and second side portion when in a flatted configuration.” The complaint again points to the Chargefeel Mid to allege that Lululemon infringes claim 1 of the ‘484 patent.

The complaint requests relief in the form of (1) an entry of judgment in favor of Nike against Lululemon; (2) a finding that Lululemon infringed Nike’s patents; (3) an award of damages adequate to compensate Nike for the infringement, but no less than a reasonable royalty, along with prejudgment interest and post-judgment interest and costs; (4) a permanent injunction against Lululemon prohibiting further infringement; and (5) other relief the court may deem just and proper.

Nike sued Lululemon in January 2022 over Lululemon’s Studio Mirror, a device allowing users to stream workouts while receiving live feedback on form. At issue in that case is a Nike patent filed in 1983. Nike alleges that the patent covers technology allowing users to compete with other users, record performance, and target exertion levels. Lululemon claims the patents in the Studio Mirror case are overly broad and invalid.

Nike is also currently involved in a lawsuit against Japanese fashion brand A Bathing Ape over designs of Nike’s Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1, and Dunk shoes. Nike filed its lawsuit against A Bathing Ape in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. Nike alleges that A Bathing Ape’s BAPE STA, BAPE STA Mid, SK8 STA, COURT STA High, and COURT STA are nearly identical copies of Nike’s designs.

Additional Reading

Here’s why Nike is suing Lululemon over shoe designs, CNBC (January 31, 2023)

Nike Sues Lululemon for Patent Infringement of Its Sneaker Designs, Hypebeast (January 31, 2023)

Nike, Inc. v. Lululemon USA Inc. (Case No. 1:2023cv00771)

Complaint in Nike, Inc. v. Lululemon USA Inc.

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