Fila launched the Skele-Toes range to captilize on the trend that was occurring at the time to minimalist running shoes. They were widely considered to be released to also capitalize on the popularity of the 'toe shoes' from Vibram Five Fingers. The Fila design had four pockets (combined pocket for the 4th and 5th toes) whereas the Vibram had five pockets for the toes.
The Skeletoes range is now no longer listed on the Fila website, but they are available at Amazon.com.
Fila's description of the Skele-Toes 2.0:
lightweight midsole construction cushions the foot without weighing it down; High traction, multi surface sculped outsole provides superior grip on any surface; Four-way stretch; Two-ply nylon neoprene upper enhances comfort; Bungee cord pull tab allows effortless entry.
In July 2011, Vibram initiated legal action against Fila over the shoes as they considered it breached the patent they had for their Vibram FiveFingers:
Vibram S.p.A., of Italy, today announced that it and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Vibram USA Inc. have commenced legal action in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts against Fila USA, Inc. for patent infringement. The patents involved cover footwear having individually articuable toe portions, as embodied in Vibram's enormously successful FiveFingers® branded footwear that has helped to pioneer minimalist footwear, the barefoot running trend, and its inherent benefits.
The complaint alleges Fila USA, Inc.'s (“Fila”) "Skeletoes" footwear is infringing several U.S. Patents held by Vibram. The FiveFingers Patents cover a variety of footwear designs comprising individual toe pockets.
“Before Vibram FiveFingers were introduced, there was no minimalist footwear constructed with individual toe pockets that encouraged natural, barefoot movement, while at the same time providing enhanced grip and protection. Vibram pioneered the minimalist footwear category,” said Tony Post, Vibram USA's President. "Vibram launched the concept in 2005, and public reception has grown tremendously since, now the entire footwear industry has responded by entering the minimalist category. In fact, Vibram has even partnered with Merrell and New Balance to create minimal/barefoot like sole platforms that are complementary to our Vibram FiveFingers."
“Vibram innovated the technology and earned the patents. With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe our intellectual property. These infringements are not only damaging to Vibram, they also hurt our retail partners and the public trust. Vibram will work diligently to bring such action to a stop.”
Fila responded at the time:
Fila USA, Inc. announced today that the company will vigorously defend itself against the complaint filed on July 6, 2011 by Vibram S.p.A. and Vibram USA Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that Fila USA Inc.'s Skele-toes™ line of footwear infringes three patents. Fila has reviewed the allegations in Vibram's complaint and has determined that they are without merit. Prior to developing and releasing this line of footwear in February 2011, Fila determined that the Skele-Toes shoes did not infringe any existing patents including those owned by Vibram. Though Vibram is generally credited with launching the minimalist trend in the footwear industry, Fila Skele-Toes joins a long history of shoes with articulated toes and represents a more accessible approach to this rapidly expanding minimalist footwear category.
Vibram announced in November 2012:
Vibram S.p.A., Vibram USA, Inc. and Fila USA, Inc. have entered into a settlement agreement resolving a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Vibram against Fila on July 6, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The lawsuit involved Vibram’s U.S. Patents No. 7,805,860, D579,181 and D582,134, and certain of Fila’s Skele-Toes footwear models. While the terms of the agreement are confidential, Vibram’s patents remain valid and Vibram will continue to vigorously protect its intellectual property and enforce its patent rights.
Skele-Toes at eBay:
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