Vans is suing Primark for selling 'intentional copies' of its iconic trainers

Footwear brand says shoes have been designed to ‘confuse the purchasing public’

Sarah Young
Tuesday 01 January 2019 16:30
Vans: Not Just One Thing - The Old Skool

Vans and parent company VF Corp is suing Primark for allegedly copying the designs of two of its iconic skateboard trainers.

The footwear brand claims Primark has been selling “intentional copies” of the trainers since 2017, and had thought the matter was settled last January after asking them to stop.

However, Vans soon discovered that the high street retailer was still selling the products in the US.

The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, and was filed in a New York federal court earlier this month.

The documents refer to two trainers, including the Vans Old Skool and the Vans Sk8-Hi, which both feature the brand’s trademark “side stripe” and waffle-patterned bottom.

The Old Skool trainer typically retails at £55 but Primark is selling its version for just £8.

Similarly, the Vans Sk8-Hi high-top costs £65 while Primark’s comparable design is available for just £12.

Vans said it has been using the trademarked side stripe since the Seventies.

“The Side Stripe Trademark’s prominent placement and often-contrasted color make Vans’ shoes immediately recognizable to consumers even at far-off distances,” the court documents state.

In the lawsuit, Vans states Primark’s choice of name for its products is evidence of stealing.

It says Primark used the names, “’Skater low tops’ and ‘Skater high tops’ in a blatant attempt to suggest a connection with Vans’ products that bear the Vans trademarks and trade dress, including the Vans’ Old Skool Shoe and Sk8-Hi Shoe.”

Vans also makes reference to the large number of customers who have started calling Primark’s trainers “fake Vans” on social media.

“The infringing products are calculated and intentional knock-offs of Vans’ footwear products and have been designed to confuse the purchasing public," the company said.

Primark told WWD that the company disagrees with the allegations and plans to "defend" its position.

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