Nike is facing another legal wrangle over its FlyKnit technology after it emerged the US firm has filed a lawsuit claiming patent infringement by fellow sportswear firm Puma North America Inc. In a complaint with the US District Court in Massachusetts, Nike claims that Puma has “forgone independent innovation and is instead using Nike’s technologies without permission.” Nike also claims it has suffered “irreparable harm and damages” with the company requesting a trial by jury and a permanent injunction instructing Puma from infringing the Nike patents and an award of damages. Puma denies the allegations. The history of FlyKnit technology has been beset with legal issues, mainly involving Nike’s biggest rival Adidas.
In 2012, Nike tried to prevent Adidas from marketing its own version of knitted footwear, the Primeknit, while Adidas argued that the knitting technique already existed and was not patent protected. Nike then filed a temporary injunction that would halt the sale and production of the Adidas technology, which Nike claimed was a copy of its FlyKnit.
A court in Germany set the injunction aside, but Nike said then that it would pursue a permanent injunction and continue to protect its intellectual property. Adidas later filed for cancellation of the Nike patent, claiming that the technology cannot be patented. In 2017, Adidas filed an appeal with the US Federal Court of Appeals contesting an earlier decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board upholding Nike’s patent for the knitted upper technology – a dispute that is ongoing.