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Dr. Martens Files Suit Against Chinese Laundry

AirWair International Ltd., the Wollaston, England-based manufacturer, thinks the brand is selling shoes that it claims look too much like Dr. Martens.

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DOC MARTENS SUIT: Dr. Martens wants to stomp out copycats. AirWair International Ltd., the Wollaston, England-based manufacturer and marketer of Dr. Martens footwear, has sued Chinese Laundry for illegally selling shoes that it claims look too much like Dr. Martens.

In a complaint filed on Sept. 18 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, AirWair declared, “Chinese Laundry’s conduct in copying AirWair’s registered Trade Dress Marks has been systematic and deliberate. Chinese Laundry has copied the Trade Dress and the overall style and configuration of Dr. Martens boots and shoes as closely as possible in a deliberate and calculated attempt to trade upon the popularity and distinctive appearance and design of Dr. Martens footwear.” In particular, AirWair alleges that Chinese Laundry has utilized yellow stitching in the welt area, a two-toned grooved sole edge and a DMS undersole design that are Dr. Martens signatures and have been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. AirWair’s lawsuit seeks aninjunction to stop Chinese Laundry from making and distributing shoes that imitate Dr. Martens’ shoes, and demands that Chinese Laundry hand over profits from sales of the offending shoes to AirWair. Alternatively, AirWair asks for an award of statutory damages in an amount of not more than $1 million per counterfeit mark per good sold or offered for sale by Chinese Laundry. AirWair is also calling for Chinese Laundry to cover attorney’s fees and other legal expenses.

AirWair has a litigious history. Last year, the company took to court to stop Vans Inc. from selling shoes it asserted infringed on its trademarks. In July, a California federal judge in that case denied Vans’ request for a dismissal. AirWair has battled legally with Skechers as well over sole designs and false advertising. AirWair has made and marketed Dr. Martens footwear since 1960, and has sold the brand’s merchandise in the U.S. since 1984. It estimates millions of pairs of Dr. Martens shoes, boots and sandals have been bought in the country.

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