Reebok's Pump Is Patent Primed

After a long wait, Reebok International on Oct. 27 won a patent on its inflatable Pump sneakers. But few competitors need fear a patent-infringement suit. The patent doesn't apply to pumps in baseball gloves, helmets, or any product other than shoes.

Reebok has sued L.A. Gear for its Regulator sneakers, and it may also sue Far Eastern makers of unbranded clones. But Nike is safe. It took its pump basketball shoe, the Air Command Force 180, off the market in May. Nike's reason? "The technology doesn't enhance performance," sniffs a spokesman.