On February 9, 2015, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued the public version of Order No. 36 (dated January 27, 2015) in Certain Footwear Products (Inv. No. 337-TA-936).
By way of background, this investigation is based on an October 14, 2014 complaint filed by Converse Inc. ("Converse") alleging violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain footwear products that infringe U.S. Trademark Registration Nos. 4,398,753; 3,258,103; and 1,588,960. Additionally, Converse alleged violation of Section 337 based upon unfair competition/false designation of origin, common law trademark infringement and unfair competition, and trademark dilution. See our October 15, 2014 and November 14, 2014 posts for more details on the complaint and Notice of Investigation, respectively.
According to the Order, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. ("New Balance") filed a motion to intervene as a Respondent in the investigation pursuant to Commission Rule 210.19. Specifically, New Balance argued that: (1) its motion is timely; (2) it has an interest relating to the property; (3) its ability to protect its interest would be impaired by the general exclusion order sought by Converse; (4) its interests cannot be adequately represented by the existing parties as none have an incentive to protect New Balance's designs; and (5) the investigation is at an early stage and that intervention will not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties. All parties to the investigation either supported or did not oppose New Balances' motion to intervene.
ALJ Bullock agreed with New Balance's argument that the five factors noted above all favorably support its motion to intervene. Furthermore, ALJ Bullock held that it is possible that New Balance's shoes could be found to violate Section 337 with respect to Converse's asserted trademarks. Accordingly, ALJ Bullock granted New Balance's motion to intervene and, further, granted New Balance's request to be given full Respondent status.