Converse to Eco-Friendly Shoe Company: Quit Stepping On Our Toes

The shoe giant is stomping on a local businesses product, claiming they copied their look.

There’s a court battle afoot between the makers of the iconic black-and-white Chuck Taylor All Stars, and a business based out of Jamaica Plain that makes a similar style for the soles of those who prefer their sneakers remain eco-friendly.

According to a court complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, on September 9, the North Andover-based Converse company is suing Autonomie Project, a fair trade fashion company, for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, trademark dilution, and unfair business practices.

The 18-page lawsuit claims that the Autonomie Project, which produces their own version of the popular Chuck Taylor shoe design, is stepping on the company’s trade-mark toes. Converse has exclusive rights to the way their shoes look, and has spent millions of dollars to advertise their brand, and keep their look as their own.

By creating a similar shoe, Converse says the Jamaica Plain company is confusing and deceiving customers.

According to the court filing:

Converse owns common law and federal trademark rights in the appearance of the outsole, midsole, and upper designs commonly used in connection with Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, including but not limited to the design of two stripes on a midsole, the design of a toe cap, the design of a multi-layered toe bumper featuring diamonds and line patterns, and the relative position of these elements to each othe.

Converse representatives say the shoes that Autonomie has been churning out to customers is “confusingly similar,” specifically their “Ethletic High Top” sneakers, and “Low Top” sneakers, which both bear the same sole, stitching, and overall look of the Converse Chucks.

Converse sent Autonomie a cease and desist in 2012, along with photos to show why they were allegedly violating trademark laws.

Company representatives claim the website, at the time the cease and desist was sent, acknowledged that their shoes looked similar to Chuck Taylor’s by advertising them to customers that way. Now, they want the products to disappear, and have filed for an order directing the destruction of all “infringing products,” including all advertising materials.

The North Andover-based shoe company claims the damages done by retailers at Autonomie “will continue to cause substantial and irreparable injury to Converse, “ including “substantial and irreparable injury to the goodwill and reputation for quality” associated with the Converse trademark. The company is hoping to recover Autonomie’s profits, actual damages, and costs associated with attorney fees. They are demanding a trial by jury in the case.

Autonomie’s shoes are still advertised on their website, however, the company has not Tweeted, or updated their blog since 2012.

Converse Court Complaint