A court has ruled that the government of California is within its rights to prohibit Adidas from selling kangaroo-hide soccer shoes in the state.
U.S. law does not pre-empt a state law banning importation and sale of kangaroo products in California, the California State Supreme Court ruled Monday. It reversed two lower-court decisions that sided with Adidas's argument that the California law could not foreclose U.S. provisions that allow the use of the Australian kangaroo hides.
Adidas recently began one of its largest U.S. advertising campaigns. The promotions feature David Beckham, who recently joined the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team.
"Although Adidas makes some shoes using kangaroo leather, a common practice in our industry, Adidas does not make shoes from any endangered or threatened kangaroo species," a company spokeswoman, Andrea Corso, said in a statement. "We are confident that we will prevail in this matter."
Beckham's soccer shoe is made with a synthetic leather upper, Corso said.
The United States lifted a ban in 1981 on imports of leather from the three kangaroo species that Adidas uses for the shoes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995 took those species off its endangered or threatened species list, effectively ending the U.S. government's involvement in the matter, the California court said.
The case was brought by Viva, the Vegetarian International Voice for Animals. The California Supreme Court sent the case back to the appeals court to decide whether Viva had standing to bring the case under California law and whether the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibited California from trying to regulate kangaroo imports, said an Adidas lawyer, Martin Fineman.