Puma accuses Brooks of infringing ‘Nitro’ running shoe trademark

The logo of Puma sportswear company is seen at its store at Tbilisi Mall in Tbilisi, Georgia, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

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  • Puma introduced ‘Nitro’ line last year
  • Brooks’ ads for nitrogen-infused shoes allegedly violate rights

(Reuters) – German sportswear maker Puma SE has sued Berkshire Hathaway’s Brooks Sports Inc in Indianapolis federal court, alleging Brooks’ advertising for sneakers with nitrogen-infused soles violates Puma’s “Nitro” trademark rights.

Puma’s Friday lawsuit also accused Brooks of violating a design patent by copying the foam-molding technology Puma uses in its Nitro shoes for Brooks’ Aurora BL running shoes.

A Brooks spokesperson said Monday that Puma was “abusing trademark law by seeking to prevent competitors from using the term ‘nitro’ to describe nitro-infused shoes” and called the allegations “baseless.”

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Puma and its attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Puma said in the lawsuit that it launched its “Nitro” running shoe line last year, and that it has since become one of Puma’s top-selling U.S. brands.

The lawsuit said a Puma employee discovered at a November trade show that Brooks was using “Nitro” to advertise its running shoes. Puma said Brooks’ infringing ad campaign includes offers to “Nitro-infuse your run” on its website and the social-media hashtag “#RunOnNitro.”

Brooks rejected Puma’s attempt to settle the dispute in December, according to the lawsuit.

Puma accused Brooks of violating its common-law trademark rights in the word “Nitro.” Puma’s application for a federal “Nitro” trademark is still pending.

Puma asked the court for an unspecified amount of money damages and an order blocking Brooks from using the “Nitro” name or infringing its patent.

Sneaker maker Skechers USA Inc also sued Brooks last month for trademark infringement in Los Angeles. Skechers said that Brooks’ use of the numeral “5” on some of its running shoes was likely to cause confusion with Skechers’ “S” logo.

The Puma case is Puma SE v. Brooks Sports Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, No. 1:22-cv-01362.

For Puma: Joel Tragesser, Michael Piery and James Aquilina of Quarles & Brady

For Brooks: not available

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Skechers sues Brooks Running for trademark infringement over ‘5’ logo

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Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

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