Originally created 05/14/98

Nike denies patent infringement



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Nike Inc. denies it infringed on a Greenville man's patents in 48 different styles of its shoes.

Ian Whatley, a former race walker on the U.S. national team, sued two months ago in federal court charging Nike used his patented foot-cushioning spring in its shoes.

The lawsuit alleges the illegal use of his patents helped the company make $795 million in profits last year.

Whatley also charges that Nike tried to coerce him into selling the rights to his patents by interfering with a job offer made to him by an Upstate manufacturing company.

In its response, Nike said it offered to pay $20,000 for the right to use the patents. The company also said two Nike employees told Whatley's potential employer they were not comfortable working with Whatley as a representative of the company.

But Nike denies it interfered with employment negotiations between the local company and Whatley and denies the comments made by its employees were an effort to coerce him into selling the patents.

Nike, based in Beaverton, Ore., wants the case dismissed and wants Whatley to pay its legal costs.

No trial date has been set.