Wolverine World Wide has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Harbor Footwear and Kohls for allegedly violating Merrell design patents on three separate models-The Jungle Moc, Jungle Slide and Winter Moc. Harbor Footwear and Kohl’s are selling the Jungle Moc under the GBX brand as two different styles of Rainier. The Jungle Slide is sold as the “Trail Clog,” and the Winter Moc is sold as the “Trail Sport.”
SEW contacted Jacques Lavertue, president of Wolverine’s Outdoor Group, who said that Merrell has been rather successful in defending its 170 design patents. He said that there is usually a cease and desist effort before there is any reason to go to court and it was “unfortunate” that this was not the case with Kohls and Harbor.
In court documents provided by Merrell, WWW asked the courts for several remedies of the situation including a permanent injunction against Harbor and Kohls preventing any further infringement, “a disgorgement of Harbor and Kohls profits,” and damages, including reasonable attorneys fees.
Lavertue also told SEW that Merrell and WWW went to court one other time over design patents, and “the case was settled.”
“While the footwear community typically respects the creative rights and the intellectual property developed by other companies, some in our industry find it easier to copy successful patterns rather than develop their own styles,” said Lavertue. “The products identified in our lawsuit point to a pattern of copying our innovative and successful Merrell products by Harbor Footwear. We included Kohl’s in this suit because we believe it is the obligation of retailers and their buyers to ensure they are dealing with reputable footwear companies that develop their own styles and patterns.”