Old Grudges Die Hard

Puma needs to score with new products to stay in the competition.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Whoever has a leg up on shoe designs using the new eTPU material will likely have a competitive advantage in the future.

  • Facts


    • Puma began developing eTPU soled shoes with BASF in 2009 and patented four designs.
    • In 2011, BASF switched to Puma arch-rival Adidas. In 2013, Adidas brought an eTPU soled running shoe called Boost to stores in 2013.
    • Puma has accused Adidas of copying its design and the two have been battling in court ever since.
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It’s a rivalry that dates back more than 60 years.

Rudolf and Adolf Dassler, brothers and business partners, had a falling out and founded rival shoe companies – Adidas and Puma. The Dasslers never reconciled and decades later, Adidas and Puma, both based in the tiny Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, are at each others throats like never before.

Puma has sued Adidas for allegedly using a patented design as the basis for its Boost running shoe. Adidas has returned the favor, filing a lawsuit in Düsseldorf to stop the sale of Puma’s NRGY running shoe.

The battle is over the shoes’ soles – they’re made from a new material that could revolutionize the entire athletic shoe industry.

In 2009, Puma began cooperating with the chemicals company BASF to develop a sole made from a synthetic material called eTPU. The material, which is manufactured by binding small balls of foam together, is similar to polystyrene and provides a better cushion, releasing energy when athletes raise their feet.

“We believe it could become the new industry standard,” Matthias Hartmann, the head of materials and process development at Puma, told Handelsblatt.

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