The family of Olympic marathon runner Abebe Bikila in February filed a lawsuit in Tacoma, WA, federal court seeking up to $15 million in damages from minimalist footwear maker Vibram for its unauthorized use of the athlete’s name for its FiveFingers Bikila models.
Bikila was born in Ethiopia and ran barefoot for their Olympic team during the 1960 marathon in Rome, winning that race as well as the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which he ran shod, and his name is an important one in barefoot running lore.
His family claims that Vibram, which trademarked “Bikila” in 2010, had neither the deceased runner’s permission nor the permission of his surviving family to use the name.
Bikila died in 1973 from complications of a car accident four years earlier that left him a paraplegic.
Vibram in 2014 paid $3.75 million to settle a class action suit that alleged the company made misleading and false claims about the benefits of its FiveFingers footwear.