How Existing Patent Regulations Encourage Competition in the “Super Shoe” Race


Emma McMillan

Since Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier in the mid-1950s, the American public has become increasingly obsessed with achieving the impossible. In 2016, the U.S. Patent Office approved Nike’s ground-breaking and controversial patent on its first of many “super shoes,” the Vaporfly, a shoe utilizing a new lightweight foam and carbon fiber plate designed to maximize energy return and enhance running performance. Since then, dozens of other manufacturers have succeeded in developing their own super shoes. Despite this progress, however, critics contend that the approval of Nike’s Vaporfly patent not only threatens the integrity of running as a sport but also stifles innovation amongst industry players. In contrast, this Article argues that the Vaporfly’s patent approval and subsequent patent regulation has actually stimulated competition among companies and led to significant economic payoffs for Nike and its competition.

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