The patents involved cover footwear having individually articuable toe portions, as embodied in Vibram's enormously successful FiveFingers® branded footwear that has helped to pioneer minimalist footwear, the barefoot running trend, and its inherent benefits.
The complaint alleges Fila USA, Inc.'s (“Fila”) "Skeletoes" footwear is infringing several U.S. Patents held by Vibram. The FiveFingers Patents cover a variety of footwear designs comprising individual toe pockets.
“Before Vibram FiveFingers were introduced, there was no minimalist footwear constructed with individual toe pockets that encouraged natural, barefoot movement, while at the same time providing enhanced grip and protection.
Vibram pioneered the minimalist footwear category,” said Tony Post, Vibram USA's President. "Vibram launched the concept in 2005, and public reception has grown tremendously since, now the entire footwear industry has responded by entering the minimalist category. In fact, Vibram has even partnered with Merrell and New Balance to create minimal/barefoot like sole platforms that are complementary to our Vibram FiveFingers."
Post added, “Vibram innovated the technology and earned the patents. With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe our intellectual property. These infringements are not only damaging to Vibram, they also hurt our retail partners and the public trust. Vibram will work diligently to bring such action to a stop.”
Vibram® is recognized worldwide as the leader in high performance soles for outdoor, recreational, work and fashion footwear and is relied on by the world’ s greatest climbers and athletes.
Time magazine named Vibram FiveFingers one of the best inventions of 2007 in the category of health. Vibram® soles have set the standard since Vitale Bramani created mountaineering’s first rubber lugged sole in the late 1930’s. Vibram® soles have gone on to conquer Mt. Everest, K2 and a host of the world’s tallest peaks.