On January 9, the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision in the Already v. Nike trademark case, rejecting an appeal by a small shoe manufacturer arguing it should be allowed to sue to invalidate Nike’s trademark on their Air Force 1 shoes even after Nike dropped its own infringement suit.
In this long-running case, Nike sued Already for allegedly knocking off their Air Force 1 shoe, with Already countersuing and seeking to invalidate Nike’s trademarks. Nike then dropped their suit and drew up a covenant never to sue Already over these shoes; however, Already continued to pursue their case arguing that the continued threat of trademark litigation impacted investor interest. The Court rejected this notion, saying Already failed to prove they legitimately feared being sued by Nike again.
Wakefield said that the decision isn’t likely to change intellectual property law.
“The case is unlikely to have a major impact,” he said. “It provides clarity for trademark, patent, and other intellectual property owners as to what standard will apply if they want end a lawsuit, even where they started it, by providing the other side a `covenant not to sue’ – that is, a promise to leave them alone in the future.”