The plaintiff, a privately held footwear company named Gravity Defyer, is claiming Under Armour purposefully named select new styles of shoes to sound similar to its own trademarked G Defy line of products. As a result, the company says consumers are being "misled" into buying Under Armour's footwear when they may have instead been searching for Gravity Defyer's wares.
But the retailers? Really?
Now, Gravity Defyer just announced it has revised its lawsuit to name more than a dozen additional online retailers for their participation in the trademark infringement, including Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL), Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) and its Champs Sports subsidiary, Nordstrom, Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS), Sport Chalet, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and its Zappos subsidiary, Backcountry.com, Rogan's Shoes, Road Runner Sports Retail, MonkeySports, Holabird Sports, Eastbay, and Dodds Shoe Company.
Now I'm no lawyer, but that massive list of defendants begs the question: Is Gravity Defyer overreaching here? I mean, I can at least grasp Gravity Defyer's beef with Under Armour for having similarly named products. Heck, Under Armour might even know the feeling, considering it sued Nike in February, claiming the larger company's advertising slogans were too close to its "I will" catchphrase.
But in Gravity Defyer's case, should the companies who sell Under Armour's shoes online really be held responsible for that trademark infringement? After all, I can't exactly see Under Armour stepping out to add television networks and websites to its own trademark lawsuit because they ran Nike's advertisements in question.
Of course, it's also safe to say most folks expect they're purchasing high-quality products from a great company when they pick up gear made by Under Armour -- and that's one of many reasons I bought more of its shares for my personal portfolio just last week. Meanwhile, Gravity Defyer isn't exactly a brand many people know by name.
Foolish final thoughts
In the end, then, I can't help but wonder whether Gravity Defyer is now using Under Armour's alleged infraction as a way to garner as much publicity as possible through this suit. As the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity, right?
But who knows? Maybe Gravity Defyer's products really are as revolutionary as they claim, and if that's the case, they should be able to rise to the top by legitimately competing with the big boys. However, if it turns out Gravity Defyer is simply drawing attention to this case for the wrong reasons, the company will be in for a rude awakening when it realizes it takes much more to build a sustainable business over the long run.
What do you think? Does Gravity Defyer have a case? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Fool contributor Steve Symington owns shares of Under Armour. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, lululemon athletica, and Under Armour. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.