Skechers vs Steve Madden: Trademark infringement and dilution of famous "S" marks

Footwear giant Skechers has found itself embroiled in yet another trademark dispute, this time against fellow shoemaker Steve Madden. The legal battle centers around Skechers' well-known "S" logo, which the company claims has been infringed upon by Steve Madden's use of a similar mark on its "Kennie" sneaker.


Igor Demcak

Details of the Case

In its complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Skechers asserts that Steve Madden is fully aware of its well-established marks and intentionally adopted a "confusingly similar mark" on the "Kennie" sneaker. The logo used by Madden closely resembles Skechers' "S" marks, featuring a stylized "S" rotated slightly counterclockwise. Additionally, Skechers points out that Madden has placed the allegedly infringing logo in the same location traditionally occupied by Skechers' marks on its footwear.

Skechers further argues that Madden's actions are likely to cause consumer confusion regarding the origin, affiliation, or endorsement of the sneakers. Both companies target the same consumers and operate in the same distribution channels, intensifying the potential for confusion among customers. The infringement claim rests on the premise that Madden's use of a mark substantially similar to Skechers' dilutes the distinctive character of the famous "S" marks, contravening federal and state laws.

To strengthen its case, Skechers cites its extensive trademark portfolio consisting of nearly two dozen different "S" logos. Over time, Skechers claims to have used these marks with regularity and consistency, resulting in widespread recognition among consumers in the United States. The company argues that the public associates these marks solely with Skechers and its footwear products. Skechers' assertion of a "trademark family" further bolsters its argument, emphasizing the long-standing and pervasive use of the "S" marks to identify its products.

Trademark Dilution and Unfair Competition 

Trademark dilution occurs when a third party's unauthorized use of a similar mark weakens the distinctiveness and uniqueness associated with a famous trademark, even in the absence of consumer confusion. It aims to prevent the gradual erosion of the brand's value and reputation. Unfair competition, on the other hand, refers to any deceptive, misleading, or dishonest practices that give one business an unfair advantage over its competitors. In the context of trademark law, it typically involves actions that cause confusion among consumers, damage the reputation of a brand, or infringe upon the rights of another trademark owner. Together, these concepts form the basis for legal remedies and protection against unauthorized use, infringement, and dilution of valuable trademarks.

Skechers' dilution claim is of particular interest, as it questions the famous status of the "S" marks and their susceptibility to dilution. Skechers alleges that Madden's unauthorized use not only confuses consumers but also dilutes the distinctiveness of its famous "S" marks. With a substantial trademark portfolio backing its claims, Skechers aims to protect its brand identity and market position. Whether the court will acknowledge the fame of Skechers' "S" marks remains to be seen, but the outcome of this claim could have broader implications for the company and potentially prompt actions from other industry players.

Igor Demcak
Igor Demcak

Trademark Attorney

Founder of Trama

7 year experience in IP protection

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