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Primark vs Vans: Allegations of copying iconic trainers

Written by Demi- Leigh Mason, a student at Southampton Solent University on 15 January 2019

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It has been recently reported that the well-known brand, Vans, are suing the British retailer, Primark, for allegedly copying the designs for two of their iconic trainers. The lawsuit, which was filed in a New York Federal Court earlier this month mentions trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising.

The filing includes the ‘Vans Old Skool’ and the ‘Vans Sk8-Hi’, which feature the brand’s trademark of the white stripe with the hexagonal patterned bottom. Some of the court documents state that Primark have been using names such as ‘Skater Low Tops’ and ‘Skater High Tops’ which suggests being a blatant attempt to a connection with the original Vans’ products.

The trademark for Vans of the side stripe, which they have been using since the 1970’s, and often including contrasting colours makes the Vans’ trainers immediately recognisable which is a huge factor to how Vans sell their products. However, Primark have been selling the trainers for prices varying between £8 and £12, which is approximately a quarter of the price of Vans’ trainers.

According to Vans, the clothing brand Primark, have been selling copies of their trainers since 2017 despite being requested to stop back in January last year. Primark took no notice of these demands and remained selling the products in the US. It has been reported that Primark disagrees with all of the allegations against them and plans to defend their position.

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