Vans gets temporary ban on selling ‘counterfeit’ sneakers from Walmart

Vans shoes and a backpack are seen in a shop window in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso

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  • Vans said Walmart had a systematic campaign to rip off its shoes
  • Judge said Vans was likely to win on its claims

(Reuters) – Vans Inc has convinced a California federal court to block sales of Walmart Inc shoes that allegedly copied its designs pending their trademark infringement litigation.

A federal judge said in an opinion released Friday that Vans was likely to win its trademark claims against the retail giant and would be irreparably harmed without the ban on sales.

Vans shoes, based in Costa Mesa, California, became famous in the 1970s among Southern California skaters, and they have since become a hugely popular global brand.

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Vans sued Walmart in November, arguing that Walmart engaged in a concerted effort to rip off “virtually all” of Vans’ top-selling sneakers.

The Walmart shoes cost less than $20 and are “cheap, poorly made and confusingly similar” to $60 Vans, according to the lawsuit. Vans also said Walmart is aware that the affiliates it pays to review its shoes online present them as “dupes” or cheaper “counterfeits”.

Walmart countered Vans’ ban request in January, arguing that Vans’ designs were not eligible for trademark protection and that it could not prove that Walmart’s shoes were likely to confuse consumers. clients. Walmart also said Vans could not demonstrate the “irreparable harm” necessary to halt its sales early.

“There was no urgency to rush this motion,” Walmart explained. “Vans filed the petition at least 18 months after Walmart began selling the accused shoes.”

But U.S. District Judge David Carter said Thursday that Walmart’s shoes “clearly bear striking similarities” to those of Vans, that Walmart showed some intent to confuse consumers and that there was evidence that customers had been genuinely confused.

Vans was also likely to suffer irreparable harm without an immediate blocking of sales from Walmart, in part because Walmart flooded the market with the alleged counterfeits, Carter said.

Walmart said an injunction would cost it tens of millions of dollars.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Friday the company would continue to defend itself against the claims and was reviewing the order and considering its options.

Vans and its attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Vans Inc v. Walmart Inc, US District Court for the Central District of California, No. 8:21-cv-01876.

For Vans: Nick Hoffman, Tanya Greene and Lucy Wheatley of McGuireWoods

For Walmart: Lawrence Iser of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley, Anthony Lo Cicero of Amster Rothstein & Ebenstein

Read more:

Vans sues Walmart for sneaker counterfeiting

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Blake Brittain

Washington-based correspondent covering court cases, trends and other developments in intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Previous experience at Bloomberg Law, Thomson Reuters Practical Law and work as a lawyer.

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