In October, Converse filed lawsuits against 32 companies for trademark infringement, accusing the likes of Skechers, Walmart, K-Mart, FILA, Ed Hardy, and Ralph Lauren for ripping off designs of the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker. Converse, owned by Nike, complained that these brands had copied the classic shoe’s striped, toe-bumper and toe-cap style. First created in 1917, the shoe was named for basketball star/Converse salesman Chuck Taylor, then later appropriated by Kurt Cobain acolytes and, finally, the high fashion world.
Now, Ralph Lauren Corp. and Converse Inc. have entered a settlement agreement and filed a joint motion to terminate the case, which was pending before the U.S. International Trade commission, according to ITC documents. Per the agreement, Ralph Lauren will destroy all copycat products named in Converse’s complaint, Women’s Wear Daily reports (subscription required).
An investigation by the ITC found that a total of 36 Ralph Lauren shoe styles infringed on Converse’s trademarks, including washed canvas, Western leather, camouflage shoes, and bleached denim shoes. Within 30 days of the agreement going into effect, Ralph Lauren have to get rid of these, as well as component parts, tools and molds, advertising, promotional materials and packaging related to the offending products. Ralph Lauren will also pay a monetary sum to Converse, but the amount was not specified in the public version of the settlement agreement. The brand’s main concern is putting an end to impostor Chucks.
Trademark infringement accusations can be difficult to prove in the world of fashion, as the New York Times pointed out: companies must prove that consumers associate a given design with a specific brand, and that the design is not just a part of a larger fashion trend. Companies also can’t legally trademark the functional aspects of their designs. But Chuck Taylors are apparently so clearly Converse-specific that even Ralph’s copycatting can’t cut it.