Footwear group Skechers has filed a countersuit against Asics Corporation, which begun suing its rival in January over shoes carrying a stripe design.

Asics claimed last month that a set of Skechers' shoes had a design "confusingly similar" to its own, which it said were "an attempt to free-ride on the Asics brand image and goodwill associated with our stripe mark". In its legal challenge Asics claimed trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and false advertising.

But yesterday (27 February) Skechers counter-sued. The US group said in a statement that it had filed a lawsuit against Asics Corporation and Asics America Corporation for trade libel, unfair competition and "tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and economic business relations."

Skechers said it was also seeking injunctive relief enjoining Asics from engaging in further unlawful acts, disgorgement of Asics' profits, attorneys' fees and US$100m in punitive damages.

"Skechers also seeks a declaration that none of its designs infringe upon Asics' trademarks," the statement said.

"We believe that Asics has engaged in a campaign of unfair competition and trade libel against Skechers by improperly issuing press releases and filing a lawsuit to disseminate false public information about Skechers," said Philip G. Paccione, general counsel of Skechers.

"We also believe that these false statements were made with malice as they contradict sworn testimony of Asics' executives. These falsehoods threaten Skechers' reputation of being hip, cutting edge and original in its shoe designs, and they will interfere with customer relationships."
But Michael E Zall, Asics America Corp vice president and general counsel, said in a statement: "Asics has taken legal action against numerous shoe manufacturers and retailers that try [to] capture the overall look and commercial impression of our famous Stripe Design." 

"With respect to Skechers, we expect to prevail," Zall added. "A mere look at the Skechers shoes we are suing on clearly indicates that they are trying to capture the look and goodwill associated with the Asics brand."