Vans sue Primark for selling ‘copies’ of its trainers

January 9, 2019

IP Disputes

We all love a good pair of Vans as a staple item in our trainer collection don’t we?!

Well, global shoe manufacturer Vans have issued proceedings against Primark in the US for allegedly copying the design of two of their most iconic skateboard trainers. The two designs are the Vans Old Skool trainers and the Vans Sk8-Hi trainer, which both feature the brand’s trade mark ‘side stripe’. Vans claim that they have been using this side stripe since the seventies.

Vans says that the giant fast-fashion retailer has been selling the lookalike trainers in the UK since 2017 but thought the matter had been resolved when they asked Primark to stop. Vans then discovered that Primark were still selling the trainers in the US. The Vans Old Skool trainer typically retails at £55 whilst Primark are selling its comparable design for just £8.

The law suit filed alleges trade mark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising.

The court documents state that Primark’s use of a side stripe design has confused shoppers as customers have been posting photos on Instagram and Twitter showing the close comparison, calling the Primark trainers “fake Vans”.

Primark have even named their products as the ‘Skater low tops’ and ‘Skater high tops’. Vans, quite rightly, argue that this is a blatant attempt to suggest a connection with the Vans’ trainers.

Briffa comment

A couple of points can be taken away from this dispute.

Firstly, trade marks are valuable. Trade marks protect a company’s ‘brand identifiers’ that consumers use to find its goods and services. They are the assets that prevent competitors from unfairly benefiting from a company’s well-established reputation, goodwill, brand and image.

Secondly, trade mark owners should remain vigilant for potential infringement and should take preventative action where necessary. Vans clearly intend to vigorously defend its trade marks against Primark and others.

Briffa are experts in all aspects of trade mark law and practice. If you have any copyright or other intellectual property rights that you would like to discuss, please call 020 7096 2779 or email to arrange a free meeting.

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