Nike is currently in the midst of yet another trademark dispute, but in this particular instance, it has nothing to do with a specific shoe. Instead, PUMA is attempting to block the Beaverton, Oregon-based company from trademarking the term "footware."
The Fashion Law reports that Nike and PUMA appeared before the High Court of Justice in London earlier this week for an appeal hearing surrounding the Swoosh's trademark application with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) for the word "footware." Per Nike, "footware" ties to “computer hardware modules for receiving, processing, and transmitting data in Internet of things electronic devices; electronic devices and computer software that allow users to remotely interact with other smart devices for monitoring and controlling automated systems.” Or, in layman's terms, tech-driven sneakers. The American sportswear company has also filed a similar trademark request for "footware" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), of which PUMA is opposing as well.
PUMA pegs the term "footware" as an “ordinary descriptive term for the goods and services” and an “obvious combination” of the words “footwear” and “hardware” or “software,” suggesting the word merely refers to footwear-specific hardware instead of indicating a source. To that, Nike has responded by showing its use of “smart running trainers,” “trackable trainers,” “smart shoes,” “smart football boots,” “smart running shoes,” and “connected footwear,” all pointing to the company's tech-embedded shoes.
The UKIPO previously ruled in favor of Nike in 2020, dismissing PUMA's appeal, as the office deemed "footware" as not having an “immediately apparent” meaning and that the “evidence at play does not establish that the mark is used descriptively in relation to the goods and services.” Still, PUMA remains in opposition of the trademark application, with its current appeal stating that "footware" is simply descriptive of footwear that features hardware/software. While a reversal seems unlikely given the previous ruling, PUMA continues to fight against the trademark in both the UK and the US.
For more on the story, visit The Fashion Law.