Business

Converse sues retailers over imitation Chuck Taylors

Sneakers made by Fila and Bobs look like the Converse All Star shoe (left).

Earl Wilson/New York Times

Sneakers made by Fila and Bobs look like the Converse All Star shoe (left).

Converse Inc. is suing Walmart, Kmart, Sketchers and more than two dozen other retailers for selling what the company said were knock-offs of its iconic Chuck Taylor shoe.

The North Andover company claims that 31 companies have copied the toe bumper and stripes on the midsole of one of the most popular shoes in the world.

Advertisement

Converse filed a series of lawsuits alleging trademark infringement in US District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Tuesday. It also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission.

“As our product has become more and more popular some people have chosen to ignore our common law rights and registered trademark rights to capitalize on our brand,” said Jim Calhoun, president and chief executive of Converse. “The overall goal is to stop the infringements from happening.”

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Calhoun said the company began noticing an increase in products imitating Chuck Taylors over the last few years and has sent 180 “cease and desist” letters to other companies since 2008. The infringements didn’t stop, so Converse acquired an official trademark on the shoe’s midsole design last year to be able to better defend its product, he said.

The “All-Star” debuted in 1917 as a basketball shoe and was later renamed the Chuck Taylor. Today the shoes, commonly referred to as “Chucks,” are a widely popular casual shoe and Converse says that it has sold more than 1 billion pairs.

Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.