A European Patent Office (EPO) board of appeal has confirmed that a Nike patent protecting breathable sports tops is invalid.
Adidas had opposed the patent, EP 1 746 909, which protects a garment with “zones of different air permeability which are to be determined using a certain measurement device”, according to Adidas’s representative Bardehle Pagenberg.
The full name of the patent is “Article of apparel utilising zoned venting and/or other body cooling features or methods”.
In 2013, the EPO’s opposition division revoked the patent because tops made by Adidas had been shown to have already used the measurement device described in the claims.
Nike lodged an appeal, but this was rejected as the board concurred that “the lack of availability of the measurement device mentioned in the independent claims prevents the skilled person from performing and repeating the invention, ie, from manufacturing the claimed garment”, Bardehle Pagenberg said.
The law firm announced the news on Friday, October 6, but the ruling was made last month.
Adidas and Nike, two of the world’s biggest sport brands, have come head to head in IP disputes before.
In 2015, the companies settled a trade secrets dispute in which Nike had accused three ex-employees of passing on confidential information about a footwear design studio to Adidas.
Breathable tops are commonly worn by athletes, including runners. In 2016, British newspaper The Independent ranked the ten best running gear products for men, with Adidas and Nike cooling tops both featuring.