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In-N-Out Burger is suing Puma

Cali-0 Drive Thru CC — PUMA

It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but famed West Coast fast-food franchise In-N-Out Burger certainly isn’t pleased with some of Puma’s latest kicks. The company is suing the sneaker maker for trademark infringement over sneakers released last month as part of collaboration between Puma and California designer Mike Cherman.

The offending sneakers are the Cali-0 Drive Thru CC and California Drive-Thru shoes, which retail for $110 and $90 respectively. The shoes feature a mostly white leather upper with hints of red and yellow accents along the side panel and heel — red and yellow are In-N-Out Burger’s primary colors.

Colors are one thing, but palm trees are what appeared to be the final straw for In-N-Out. The Cali-0 Drive Thru CC features palm trees on its laces — and palms feature prominently in In-N-Out Burger’s branding. The sneakers are featured on Puma’s Instagram walking through hills of burgers.

“In-N-Out Burger did not authorize Puma’s and Cherman’s intentional use of In-N-Out’s trademarks and trade dress, including color designs and palm tree logos. ... Puma and Cherman intentionally confused consumers for their own benefit and have also created the impression that our marks and unique trade dress are available for public use,” Arnie Wensinger, In-N-Out’s executive vice president told Yahoo Finance.

Puma told Yahoo Finance that it does not comment on ongoing legal cases.

The California Drive-Thru sneaks are still available on Puma’s website, but the Cali-0 Drive Thru CC is no longer available.

A driver pulls into the drive-thru lane at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Alhambra, California (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Novelty sneakers are nothing new in the shoe game, but a resurgence of the trend is gaining traction. Other major athletic shoe brands are releasing collaborative kicks. Nike partnered with NASA on a space-themed PG3 sneaker, and Adidas is releasing a line of Game of Thrones inspired shoes to coincide with the season 8 premiere of the hit HBO show.

The novelty trend appears to be paying off. U.S. footwear sales grew in the mid-single digits last year, according to Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor for The NPD Group. Puma, in particular, saw a 4.2% increase in sales in 2018, according to NDP.

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade

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