Did Primark steal Vans' skate shoes?

Sneaker brand Vans has accused Primark of plagiarism. Since 2017, the Irish clothing discounter has been distributing two pairs of sneakers that look a lot like Vans' famous skaters' shoes.

 

Striped skate shoes

Vans is accusing the budget apparel chain of copying its trademark skate sneakers and has appealed to the court in New York. The brand and its parent company VF Corporation claim that Primark is engaging in unfair competition, false advertising and violating their trademark.

 

The shoes in question are two pairs of sneakers which are extensively featured in Primark's advertising: black men's sneakers with white laces and a stripe on the side that looks remarkably similar to the design Vans has been using for its sneakers since the 1970s. In addition, the "skater low tops" and "skater high tops" (as Primark has named them) show the same honeycomb pattern on the soles that Vans always uses.

 

"We're back!"

Vans has been a famous brand in the skating and surfing scenes for decades. After their initial objections, Primark temporarily removed the contested shoes, but they have returned on the shelves for a few months now. The shoes also feature heavily in the advertising campaign for the autumn and winter collection of this year.

 

As a result, Vans has decided to go to court, claiming in the legal documents that "the placement of the stripe, often in a contrasting colour, make Vans shoes immediately recognisable for customers. Primark has manufactured an imitiation of these shoes in order to confuse people." 

 

Primark has announced that it contests the allegations and will be defending its position in court.