New Balance, Golden Goose in âdad shoesâ dispute

New Balance, Golden Goose in ‘dad shoes’ dispute

Translated by

Nicola Mira

The most popular sneakers models can generate hundreds of millions in sales worldwide, and brands are constantly on the lookout to defend their products’ unique features. Lawsuits are rife, as brands try to protect their assets, or hamper competitors in a specific product category. In the U.S., groups like NikeConverseJordanSkechersAdidasNew Balance.

The New Balance presentation showing the 990’s six models around Golden Goose’s Dad Star sneakers – New Balance

The bone of contention is a model of so-called ‘dad shoes’, the kind of thick-soled sneakers first popular in the 1980s and 90s.

In the complaint, whose documents

According to New Balance, Golden Goose’s Dad Star model, introduced at the end of 2020, features several essential design elements of the US brand’s 990 shoes, which were first produced over 40 years ago, in 1982. Since then, the 990, one of New Balance’s best-known models, has been commercialised in six different versions. New Balance seems to specifically focus on the similarity between some of these models and Golden Goose’s Dad Star.

“In addition to adopting a confusingly similar design, Golden Goose has prominently used shades of grey in its infringing shoe model, which increases the likelihood of confusion, [as] New Balance and the 990 model are famously associated with the colour grey,” stated the complaint. Grey is so strongly associated with New Balance that the brand operates a ‘grey store’ on its website and, in 2018, it introduced a ‘Grey Day’ commercial event on a global scale, featuring pop-up stores, art works, retail events and special footwear and apparel collections, all characterised by grey colourways.

The Dad Star sneakers by Golden Goose – DR

In the complaint, New Balance emphasised that, in the last 40 years and for each version of the 990 shoes, millions of dollars have been invested in marketing and advertising activity, millions of pairs of shoes have been sold worldwide, and many collaborations have been launched with other prominent brands, so that Golden Goose is exploiting the 990’s aura to boost the sales of its Dad Star shoes.

In 2020, New Balance won a court case against a Chinese brand it accused to counterfeiting its products. The notable aspect of the current lawsuit is that it pits a mid-market brand against a premium-luxury one, something that until now has occurred only rarely for sneakers designs and models. While the 990’s various versions are priced between €220 and €250, Golden Goose’s Dad Star is priced at €540.

New Balance has asked the court for a trial before a jury. It also crucially demanded that the products identified in its complaint are declared to be counterfeit, that their commercialisation is forbidden, and those already sold are recalled and destroyed. It also asked that Golden Goose disclose the profits it has made with the Dad Star shoes, so that New Balance can share in them while also claiming damages to its commercial activity.

It remains to be seen what the Massachusetts court will decide with respect to these products sold in the USA.

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