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Converse Accuses ‘Fair Trade’ & ‘Eco-friendly’ Competitor of Infringement

Converse Inc. recently sued a competitor, Autonomie Project, Inc., for willfully infringing Converse’s famous Chuck Taylor All Star shoes.

In the suit filed in federal court in Massachusetts, Converse accuses Autonomie of designing and selling its Ethletic line of shoes as flagrant imitations of Converse’s iconic line.

A comparison of the two sneakers

First introduced in 1917, the Chuck Taylor line has become one of the most famous athletic shoes in history. According to the complaint, Converse has sold over one billion pairs of Chuck Taylors, including 153 million pairs over the last decade in the United States. Chuck Taylors have received widespread and unsolicited public attention in books, magazines, television, and movies. 

Autonomie is a "fair trade fashion and footwear" website selling clothing and shoes at competitive prices. The site emphasizes its commitment to fair trade, eco-friendly practices, and competitive prices.

Similarities in the Chuck Taylor line and Ethletic line are easy to spot as seen in the image above

Autonomie's website does not deny the similarities between Chuck Taylors and its Ethletic line. Instead, the website provides a colorful history of Converse’s development of Chuck Taylors, bemoans the quality of Chuck Taylors now produced, and boasts that the Ethletic line is "just SO much better."

Converse said it mailed a cease-and-desist letter to Autonomie in August 2012, but does not report whether it ever received a response. Converse seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for infringement, false designation of origin, and dilution under the Lanham Act and Massachusetts law. 


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