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Converse suing companies over trademark shoe

Converse, the US shoemaker, is taking action against 31 companies whom they argue have copied the design of its trademark shoe.
The company has filed lawsuits against large retailers, such as Ralph Lauren and Wal-Mart, for the alleged sale of imitations of its famous Chuck Taylor sneaker.

The lawsuits, which were filed in New York, include actions against companies based in Japan, China, Italy, Australia and Canada.

The Nike subsidiary has requested that the International Trade Commission places a ban on the import and sale of the shoes.

The chief executive of Converse, Jim Calhoun, said they welcomed fair competition, but did not feel that it was right for the Chuck’s trademark look to be copied.
The popularity of this sneaker has soared since it was first introduced on US basketball court during 1917.  The company has sold around one billion pairs of this sneaker and spent hundreds of millions of dollar on advertising for it.

In a bid to protect its brand, Converse has issued around 180 cease and desist letter to retailer selling imitations of the sneakers over the past six years.

The University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Professor Polk Wagner said it is extremely difficult to win trademark cases in the fashion market.  However he referred to a case which occurred two years ago when the shoemaker, Louboutin, achieved success with trade-marking its distinctive red sole shoes.

He said that the law considers whether the ordinary customer would become confused as to the source of the item when they view it.  He added that for Converse to win their case they would have to prove that an ordinary consumer would link the design features of that particular shoe with the company that manufactured the item.

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