After topping Nike’s Jordan Brand as the second most valuable sneaker-maker in the U.S. market, adidas has advanced against Nike on another front. The EPO appeal board invidates a Nike patent that covers “vented” sports apparel. The decision draws after rival adidas opposed Nike’s patent, demonstrating that one of its own designs first made use of the technology.
The two sportswear giants have been in and out of hearings before the EPO since 2009 when the EPO first approved Nike’s patent (EP 1 746 909), which covers an “Article of apparel utilizing zoned venting. In 2013, the opposition division of EPO revoked the patent because tops made by Adidas had been indicated to have already used the measurement device described in the claims.
Nike filed an appeal, but this was rejected as the board concurred that “the lack of availability of the measurement device mentioned in the independent claims prevents the skilled person from performing and repeating the invention, ie, from manufacturing the claimed garment”, Bardehle Pagenberg said.
Adidas and Nike, two of the world’s biggest sport brands, have come head to head in IP disputes before.
In 2015, the companies settled a trade secrets dispute in which Nike had accused three ex-employees of passing on confidential information about a footwear design studio to Adidas. and/or other body cooling features or methods.”With such a cut-throat rivalry in play, it should come as little surprise that the two have been in and out of court all over the world in connection with everything from trade secret-stealing employees to their knitted sneakers and adidas' 3-stripe trademark.