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Reebok International Ltd. has settled a lawsuit alleging Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stole the athletic shoe maker’s design for a three-layer cushioned shoe sole. A U.S. District Court judge in Boston on Oct. 21 approved the settlement of a lawsuit that had been scheduled to go to trial this week. Canton, Mass.-based Reebok sued Wal-Mart last December, alleging that the design of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant’s Starter Oxide sneaker violated a patent Reebok had obtained earlier in 2004. Reebok’s lawsuit sought unspecified damages and asked Wal-Mart to notify customers who had bought the shoes to return them for refunds. Reebok spokeswoman Denise Kaigler on Tuesday said terms of the settlement were confidential. She declined to comment. A phone message seeking comment from Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires was not immediately returned. The Starter Oxide sneaker had been sold in Wal-Mart stores briefly last year before the retailer discontinued carrying them. Reebok alleged the shoes were unauthorized copies of Reebok’s DMX Reflex shoe. In court filings, Wal-Mart attorneys argued that no patent violation occurred because the sneakers were manufactured before Reebok received the patent for the triple-soled shoe. Reebok’s three-layer sole consists of a shell that collapses a center cushion like a telescope into a foam core when the wearer’s foot strikes the ground, according to Reebok’s Web site. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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