New Balance has filed a trademark lawsuit against Michael Kors for infringing its ‘N’ mark.
The sportswear giant has used the letter N in its branding since the 1970s, which it states is a clear identifier of a New Balance design. In its filing the company said: “The designs may vary slightly, but an N has appeared on the side of nearly all New Balance footwear sold for more than forty years,” selling more than 1 billion products in the U.S. over time.
New Balance alleges the shoes sold by Michael Kors confuse customers and degrade its trademark, despite a visible Michael Kors label. In its filing New Balance said “consumer confusion is a near certainty because the Michael Kors N design appears in a virtually identical commercial context.”
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Michael Kors said he owned at least 15 pairs of black New Balance sneakers, a citing New Balance made in its suit.
According to the filing New Balance specifically targeted Michael Kors’ Olympia and Pippin shoe collections, which are still available in stores and via various online e-commerce partners. The company is asking the courts to halt all sales and usage of its ‘N’ designs as well as recall existing shoes and award damages from Michael Kors profits of sold shoes.
The case is New Balance Athletics Inc v. Michael Kors (USA) Inc, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 1:21-cv-11305.