Nike and Adidas settle lawsuit over their knit footwear tech

The Flyknit and Primeknit battle comes to end outside of court.

Nike and Adidas have settled a lawsuit over their respective knit footwear technology. In a lawsuit filed in December, Nike accused Adidas of making unauthorized use of its “game-changing” and patent-protected Flyknit technology. According to The Fashion Law, the two parties have now informed the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon that they’ve reached a private settlement in which they each cover their own attorney fees and costs.

It’s a well-known fact that Nike isn’t afraid to take anyone to court: In the last year alone, the sportswear company has sued small-time customizers, designer John Geiger, and reselling platform StockX — all in the interest of protecting its intellectual property. And when it comes to the brand’s Flyknit, a feature it spent more than a decade and upwards of $100 million dollars researching and developing, Nike is fiercely defensive. The brand alleged that Adidas challenged its patents associated with its Flyknit technology for “much of the past decade,” writes TFL, alleging the German brand continued to use Nike’s patented technology without permission through Adidas’s Primeknit.

What happened — In the since-settled case, nine of Nike’s 300-or-so utility patents for Flyknit were violated by many of Adidas’s “so-called ‘Primeknit’ shoes,” the Swoosh alleged. According to the brand’s complaint, Adidas announced its Primeknit shoes only five months after Nike announced Flyknit, and the industry “immediately took note of the similarities between Nike’s patented Flyknit technology and the adidas Primeknit offerings.” Both use yarns made of recycled materials to knit a sneaker’s upper.

Nike, Inc. v. adidas AG, 3:21-cv-01780 (D. Or.).

The similarities between Flyknit and Primeknit, however, weren’t necessarily what Nike took issue with in the resolved case. Rather, Nike complained that while Adidas could’ve sought to license its Flyknit patents, it instead opted to challenge several of them, all while marketing its allegedly infringing Primeknit sneakers. As such, Nike sought injunctive relief and enhanced damages for its nine claims of patent infringement but ultimately reached a settlement with Adidas.

An ongoing suit — There’s much more than one legal battle between the two brands, though. Earlier this year, Adidas filed suit against Nike and claimed the company infringed on nine of its patents pertaining to mobile applications and smart technology. The pair has also been tangled in a lawsuit spanning almost a decade, fighting over Nike’s 2013 patent concerning its “Knitted Textile Upper Family.”

Per TFL, Adidas argued against the patent the same year it was filed, pointing to earlier art and claiming Nike shouldn’t be the sole owner of “single flat-knit textile elements.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with Adidas, but the lawsuit has been drawn out as Nike continues to try to patent its knit uppers under other wording. As Nike has proven, brands don’t become industry leaders without protecting (or monopolizing?) their property.

Former Nike president and CEO Mark Parker unveiling a new Flyknit sneaker in 2016. Nike introduced Flyknit in 2012. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images