New Balance Sues Michael Kors Over Trademark Infringement
New Balance has filed a lawsuit against Michael Kors for using the letter “N” in its shoe designs.
The lawsuit targets Michael Kors’ Olympia and Pippin lines of shoes, whose design New Balance alleges are “virtually identical and confusingly similar to the New Balance N Marks.”
New Balance first used the N logo in the 1970s in its 320 shoe model. Since then, it has been associated with the New Balance brand as it has appeared on more than 1 billion products sold in the U.S. over time.
“The shoe was an enormous success,” the company said in the lawsuit. “Its release benefitted from two coinciding events: the rising popularity of running, and its selection by Runner’s World magazine as the best running shoe in the world.”
The Boston, MA-based company alleges that the striking similarity between the lettering placement on the shoes of both brands is bound to degrade New Balance’s trademark and confuse customers, especially as both Michael Kors and New Balance are known to do collaborations with other brands.
“[H]ad New Balance authorized Defendant to design special edition products, it might have been a highly successful collaboration,” New Balance noted.
In its lawsuit, the company also noted that Michael Kors ‘ namesake designer is a fan of New Balance and has previously publicly expressed his liking for the brand. “I probably have a good 15 pairs of New Balance in black, and I don’t always wear black,” Kors was cited telling the Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
New Balance has asked Michael Kors to stop using the design and account for sales, but the designer label has so far refused to do so, which has opened the gates to a legal battle between the two companies.