Converse v Walmart: What is Considered Copyright Infringement?


Larry Bird (left) and Magic Johnson (right)


Our in-class discussions on copyright have shown to be very prevalent in today’s society.  One major example is the 2014 case where long-time sneaker giant Converse (owned by Nike) sued Walmart.  Converse has sold over one billion pairs of shoes since 1917 and its Chuck Taylor’s have been an important part of American culture.  This did not stop Walmart from distributing imitation Converse shoes.  In 2014, Converse filed an International Trade Commission complaint; the ITC ruled that any shoe that infringes upon the two copyrighted designs on the outsole of the shoe is banned.  Converse has convinced many companies to settle (including Ralph Lauren) but this does not mean that Walmart is going down quietly.  Walmart refuses to settle with Converse and calls their actions “anti-competitive”.  ITC is expected to pass more regulations in favor of Walmart and other companies fighting against converse.  It is important to learn about how our society is impacted by copyright and the risks of potential infringement.  There are many instances where we may approach the grey area in what is or is not infringement but are completely unaware of our actions or the consequences that come with them.





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