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.
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.”
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.