Karhu Holding BV and Karhu Sports Oy reached an amicable settlement to their dispute over the Karhu trademarks. Karhu Holding BV was confirmed as the owner of the Karhu global trademark portfolio and will be responsible for the sale of all other products on a global basis, including in Scandinavia and Finland.
Under the arrangement, Karhu Sports Oy of Finland will continue its footwear business in Scandinavia and Finland until the end of 2009. Karhu Sports Oy also entered into a new licensing agreement to continue to operate the Karhu ski business worldwide. All current third party licenses of the Karhu brand, including the K2 Ski license, will remain with Karhu Holding BV.
Huub Valkenburg, CEO for Karhu Holding BV, said the company is “reenergizing” the brand overseas by establishing a new subsidiary, Karhu Nordic Ab Oy, to handle all footwear sales in Scandinavia. Karhu Nordic has opened a sales office in Helsinki and is taking orders from existing accounts. The subsidiary has also partnered with Scandinavian apparel licensees to sponsor Finnish Athletics, providing the national Track & Field team with apparel through the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. As part of its arrangement with Finnish Athletics, Karhu will also sponsor the main two runs in Finland: the Helsinki City Run, a half marathon in May, and the Helsinki Marathon in August.
“Karhu is being restored as Finlands premium running brand,” said Valkenburg.
Born in 1916, KARHU (meaning “bear” in Finnish) was the inventor of the first removable spike, and from the 20s through the 80s, many of Europes early track and field stars wore Karhu.
Regarding its U.S. plans, Valkenburg said the launch is going as planned and the brand is on track to reach its goal of having product in 200 doors this year. The brand got a boost when Runners World magazine named Karhus Strong ride shoe as “Best Debut of 2009” and one of the seasons best running shoes for its annual Spring Shoe Guide Special.
“Despite the economic woes, specialty retailers recognize Karhus authenticity and agree with our product platform of Natural Running,” said Valkenburg. “Runners Worlds recognition of our Strong Ride has confirmed our claims, and specialty dealers are open to try out a brand that can not be found at the mall.”
For spring 2010, Karhu is looking to expand its line from four models to seven, adding a racing shoe and depth to its stability and neutral collections. Karhu also introduced a POP program as it starts to ship its Fulcrum collection to key accounts and is executing grassroots efforts at select accounts as part of a new Karhu Explorer program.