Waffles to Olympics: Nike’s Intellectual Property Growth

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As the 2018 Winter Olympics comes to an end we take a final look into the patents behind one of the most prominent sports brand at the Olympics: Nike.

Their involvement in the Olympics was prominent with their “Team USA Medal Stand Collection” – clothing which featured insulated pockets, zippers and patented heat reflective materials and worn for all the below freezing medal ceremonies. Nike has been filing patents for years, but did you know that Nike co-founder, William Bowerman, filed a patent for a new type of innovation sole on this day in 1974? The sole’s design was inspired by his family’s waffle iron. Bowerman received his shoe patent number 3,793,750 on February 26, 1974 and Nike began producing the “waffle” trainers the same year.[i]

Nike has always had a long history of innovation – in 2013 they set a record with +300 patents and in 2016 they filed +650 for all sorts of items, including 262 for footwear, 96 related to data and 73 for manufacturing technology.[ii] Nike now rivals Yahoo and AT&T in terms of patent portfolio size and according to The Fashion Law, “Nike has more U.S. patents than one of the United States’ top defense contractors, a company that is in the business of making stealth jets…”[iii] the trend of sports, innovation and patents won’t be stopping anytime soon.

[i] http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1413776
[ii] https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2017/02/15/feds-ok-56-new-patents-for-nike.html
[iii] http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/nike-has-more-patents-that-almost-every-other-company-in-the-us