Many consumers in New Jersey recognize Chuck Taylor shoe designs for Converse. Over the past several years, the shoe company has battled with competitors over alleged infringement of its trademark design for the Chucks. A new decision from a federal appeals court has reversed a previous court ruling and directed the U.S. International Trade Commission to reconsider the trademark claims based on evidence from only the previous five years instead of the information spanning decades used in the original case.
In October 2014, Converse took 30 shoe brands and retailers to court claiming that they were producing or selling knockoff shoes that looked like Chuck Taylor designs that the company registered in 2013. Most of the defendants settled out of court, but Skechers and New Balance continued to dispute accusations of trademark infringement. In June 2016, the ITC determined that Converse did not have valid claims to the trademark elements at issue.
Although the federal appeals court has remanded the case back to the ITC, representatives from Skechers and New Balance have expressed confidence in their prospects for a positive ruling. A statement from Skechers agreed that the company's long history of selling shoes could work in its favor. New Balance issued a similar statement that approved of the exclusion of Converse claims prior to its 2013 trademark registration.
A person wishing to register a trademark or other intellectual property could seek guidance from an attorney knowledgeable about trademark law. The attorney could engage in a trademark search to determine the viability of registering a new trademark. With legal representation, one could negotiate licensing deals, defend against claims of infringement or take infringing parties to court.