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V.F. Corp.'s Vans sues Primark over sneaker designs

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V.F. Corp.'s Vans sues Primark over sneaker designs

V.F. Corp. and its footwear brand Vans filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Primark Ltd., alleging that the Irish apparel retailer copied two popular Vans sneaker designs.

The complaint, which was filed Dec. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, also accuses Primark of unfair competition and false advertising.

At issue are Primark shoes which the plaintiffs said resemble Vans' Old Skool and Sk8-Hi skateboarding sneakers due to the use of trademarked design elements such as a side stripe and waffle-patterned sole.

V.F. Corp. and Vans said in the filing that they learned the Primark shoes were being sold in the U.K. around August 2017. They then asked the retailer to stop selling the shoes and considered the matter resolved in January.

However, they later discovered that Primark was offering the shoes again through its U.S. retail outlets and had also started producing a second sneaker that allegedly infringed Vans' trademarks.

The plaintiffs accuse Primark of making "calculated and intentional knockoffs of Vans" that were "designed to confuse the purchasing public."

The lawsuit also alleges that Primark deliberately named its shoes "Skater" to suggest a link with Vans products, and adds that consumers started referring to Primark's products as "fake Vans" or "Primark Vans" on social media.

V.F. Corp. and Vans are seeking monetary damages from Primark based on profits derived from the sale or distribution of the Skater shoes.

Primark did not respond to a request for comment by S&P Global Market Intelligence.