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Timing is Everything

The semester starts tomorrow morning, and I am teaching Trademark Law this Fall.  Happily for me, the NYTimes Magazine published this engaging review of the counterfeit sneaker industry in Putian, in China.  The piece features this wonderful quote:

As one Chinese salesman selling counterfeits in Beijing told me: ‘The shoes are original. It’s just the brands that are fake.’

Reading the story, I also wondered about the word: sneakers, sometimes called “tennis shoes.” The “Online Etymology Dictionary” gives what I suspect is a standard account: rubber-soled shoes were noiseless. On a court, however, they are anything but. The word “sneakers” has an old-fashioned quality, one that suggests that when we buy shoes, we care mostly about their function. I wore adidas Stan Smiths for a decade when I was young; those really were tennis shoes.  If Western consumers cared only about function, would Putian be such big business?

Bonus video: Sneakers trailer: