Nike and Adidas in patent fight

Nike Inc., the world's biggest maker of athletic shoes, accused rival Adidas-Salomon AG of infringing its patented method for cushioning soles and using it in its running, basketball and tennis footwear lines.

Nike filed a lawsuit in federal court in Lufkin, Texas, saying Adidas infringed Nike's "Shox'' cushioning technology, which is protected by 19 patents and took 16 years to develop, Nike said in a statement.

Nike said Adidas' $250 Adidas 1 running shoe, the German company's most expensive men's shoe, and its $150 Kevin Garnett basketball shoes have cushioning systems that infringe the patents. Adidas, which purchased Reebok International Ltd. last month for $3.8 billion to better compete with Nike, has 28 percent of the $18 billion global athletic-shoe market. Nike has 31 percent.

"It is deeply frustrating and inappropriate when companies borrow or refashion such technologies as their own without making similar investments,'' said Eric Sprunk, vice president of global footwear at Nike, in a statement, reports Bloomberg.

The SHOX technology was introduced in 2000 after the original Nike Air shoe debuted in 1979. The latest shoe to use the SHOX design is Nike's eighth Air Max running shoe, released last month at a suggested retail price of $160.

The latest version finally eliminates foam from the midsole of a shoe that relies on air cushioning in a design first suggested to Nike by aerospace engineer Rudy Frank. The goal was to create a shoe with lighter, more durable cushioning than foam.

During the World Shoe Association Show in Las Vegas last week, Nike served lawsuits on two other companies it claims is infringing on Nike patents — Air Max Import and Export Inc. and Romeo and Juliette, informs Dallas Morning News.

O.Ch.

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