There have been repeated incidences of Converse imitations and illegal parallel imports at specialist stores in outlying areas and especially involving the Metro wholesaling group. For years, Converse licensee All Star D.A.CH. GmbH, based in Neuss, Germany, has been involved in litigation concerning imitations sold at more remote retail sites. A decision was handed down in favor of the licensee by the Federal Supreme Court in a case against Metro Cash & Carry Deutschland GmbH for selling illegal parallel imports. The appeal by Metro was largely rejected, thus confirming rulings made by Hamburg’s regional and higher regional courts which forbid Metro from selling illegal parallel imports of Converse shoes. “We are very happy about this as it was a very drawn-out court case,” says Willy Umland, CEO and Managing Partner of All Star D.A.CH. “This ruling gives us reasonable hope that in future we will be able to take action faster against illegal parallel imports as well as imitations,” says Umland.

Over the past three years about a million pairs of shoes have been sold annually as imitations or illegal parallel imports bearing the Converse label. “That’s led to big losses for us,” Umland continues. After many successful temporary injunctions, seizures and absolute rulings on the merits of individual cases against various vendors of imitation goods, the brand has now begun to achieve substantial sales increases in its core business. Compared to 2011, pre-orders for spring/summer 2012 were increased by 20% and re-orders – on-the-spot orders – were increased by more than 100%. The label’s winter business – fashionable and lined shoes as well as apparel and accessories – has also become crucially important. By diversifying its product offerings, sales of Chuck Taylors account for about 50% of the brand’s overall revenues, with sales generally increasing. “By more closely focusing on our target groups, we have become more predictable and offer a wider range,” says Umland, adding that previously the brand had been too dependent on the high-top Chucks.