Converse is making a federal case out of a Jamaica Plain company's 100% organic sneakers that it says looks so much like its own sneakers they're 100% trademark violators.
In a lawsuit filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, the North Andover sneaker company says Autonomie Project's sneaker line mimics:
[T]he outsole, midsole, and upper designs commonly used in connection with Converse's Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, including but not limited to the design of two stripes on a midsole, the design of a toe cap, the design of a multi-layered toe bumper featuring diamonds and line patterns, and the relative position of these elements to each other.
Converse wants a judge to order Autonomie Project to stop selling the look-alike sneakers, destroy all the ones it still has in stock, turn over all the profits its made from sales and, of course, pay punitive damages and lawyers' fees.
On its Web site, the six-year-old Autonomie Project explains its mission:
We work exclusively with small, independent cooperatives and Fair Trade-certified facilities located in developing areas of the world where we can also allot a portion of our funds to be used for initiatives that will affect their entire community, such as building a health clinic or bringing a steady water supply to a small village. We provide our workers with a fair wage so they can beat out sweatshops and enjoy a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. We assist them with the development, design, and marketing of their products so that their businesses may prosper and become thriving participants in a reconfigured global marketplace.
Eco-friendly practices are employed whenever possible at our business's operational level as well as at the manufacturing level of all of our suppliers. We use organic cotton, all natural FSC rubber, and other eco-friendly & locally-sourced materials whenever possible to lessen our environmental impact. We never use animal products and encourage cruelty-free purchases and practices.