Reebok puts shoe into Nike in new 'rocket docket' patent suit

Rob Luke Apr. 5, 2007, 2:00am

Federal courthouse in Tyler

TYLER -- The international sneaker wars have at last made their way to the Texas home of the patent-infringement lawsuit.

Reebok International Ltd. yesterday sued rival Nike Inc. claiming patent breach by Nike's "Free" line of athletic shoes. Reebok claims Nike infringed on its patented flexible sole system to develop the line.

Nike already has an patent-infringement lawsuit outstanding against Reebok's parent company Adidas for allegedly breaching its own patented sneaker-sole technology.

Reebok, now part of German giant Adidas-Salomon AG, brought its suit against Nike in the Eastern District federal court in Tyler, Texas. The district has become so popular for filing such lawsuits that it has been dubbed the "rocket docket" by patent attorneys.

Just last week Silicon Valey-based PC maker Hewlett-Packard filed a patent-infringement suit against Taiwanese rival Acer in the Eastern District federal court in Marshall, LegalNewsLine reported.

Reebok is seeking cash compensation and an injunction stopping Nike from using the disputed technology in its Free shoes in the future. Adidas/Reebok holds about 20 percent of the U.S. sneaker/sports-equipment market compared to Nike's 40 percent, according to Bloomberg.

"We are evaluating the claims related to this very recently issued U.S. patent and any potential limited application to the successful Nike Free product," according to a Nike statement.

Last month Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike claimed Adidas had infringed its patented "Shox" technology with a line of recently-developed athletic shoes with cushioned soles. Adidas acquired Reebok in January 2006 for $3.8 billion.

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