Shoe Brand Vans Sues Walmart Over Sneaker Knockoff

Shoe Brand Vans Sues Walmart Over Sneaker Knockoff Photo Source: Adobe Stock Image

Popular shoe brand Vans is suing big-box giant Walmart over sneakers that appear to be a knockoff of Van’s most popular shoe lineup.

In a complaint filed earlier this week, Vans alleges that Walmart’s in-house brands Time and Tru, Wonder Nation, and No Boundaries have made it a habit to produce and sell knock-off shoe styles. The complaint homes in on three specific styles that are iconic to the Vans sneaker line.

“To consumers, the OLD SKOOL, SK8-HI, and Checkerboard Slip-On shoes are instantly recognizable and associated with Vans and its considerable goodwill,” the complaint reads. “Seeing Vans’ distinctive trademarks and trade dress lets the consumer know that the shoe comes from Vans and instantly conveys Vans’ reputation for authenticity, quality, and creative expression.

In the complaint, Vans offers a list of images of their shoes alongside Walmart's knockoff shoes. The knockoff versions bear a striking resemblance to the Vans sneakers down to the color shade, color combination, and style in which the shoe is designed. Vans accuses the big box giant of flooding the market with “cheap, low-quality, and confusingly similar shoes that harm Vans’ goodwill and reputation.”

The complaint also details that Walmart sells the knock-off shoes under the description of “skate” or “retro” sneakers. Vans contends that these are terms that their sneaker brand is strongly affiliated with after the shoe became popular among skateboarders in Southern California during the 70s.

In addition to the knockoff claims, the complaint alleges that Walmart knew that members of its affiliate program offered compensation to individuals who review the knockoff versions as just that, knock-offs of Vans’ sneaker collection. In these reviews, members often tout that consumers can get their hands on the knockoff skater shoes for less than $20.

“Since first creating these shoes over 40 years ago, Vans has worked tirelessly to develop these shoe lines into their now-iconic status through the investment of enormous amounts of time, effort, and resources.” Vans contends in its suit.

This is not the first time that the retail giant has been accused of producing knockoff sneakers. In a similar complaint, Kanye West’s shoe company Yeezy moved forward with its own lawsuit regarding knockoff Yeezy shoes. Walmart manufactured and distributed a style of shoe that bore a striking resemblance to the Yeezy foam runners. Walmart has since removed the knockoff shoes from its shelves.

A spokesman for Walmart has responded to the suit explaining that Walmart respects the intellectual property rights of others. Walmart also shared that it will respond as soon as it receives the complaint.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, when she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.