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US Supreme Court turns down Nike, Adidas patent dispute

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Jun 28, 2023

​The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Nike‘s bid to overturn a U.S. Patent Office tribunal’s decision to cancel part of a shoe patent in the American footwear company’s now-settled dispute with German rival Adidas.

The justices turned away up Oregon-based Nike’s appeal of a lower court’s decision upholding the agency’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board action. Nike was contesting the tribunal’s decision to invalidate the company’s proposed substitute patent elements based on arguments that Adidas had not raised at the time.

Nike and Adidas have been involved in several patent fights over technology used in their shoes. Adidas petitioned the patent office tribunal to cancel one of Nike’s patents related to making seamless knitted upper components for athletic sneakers in 2012.

After the tribunal agreed to hear the case, Nike moved to cancel parts of its patent and substitute a less extensive patent claim. The board granted the cancellation request but denied its bid to amend the patent, citing earlier publications in the record that covered the same invention.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, sent the case back to the board twice and rejected a third appeal by Nike last year. Nike told the Supreme Court in March that the board should not have been allowed to cancel a substitute patent element on its own accord based on arguments that Adidas had not raised at the time.

Separately, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board issued a ruling in May that the patent office tribunal improperly retaliated against administrative judge Michael Fitzpatrick after he protested the tribunal’s decision to expand and then shrink the size of a panel of officials hearing the Nike case without telling either company.

The Justice Department in May urged justices to consider remanding Nike’s case to the Federal Circuit to give the company an opportunity to challenge the patent-invalidity decision based on the Merit Systems Protection Board’s ruling.

© Thomson Reuters 2023 All rights reserved.

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