Stanislas Graire, the French entrepreneur and diplomat who claims to have invented and patented a “sole that breathes” just before Mario Moretti Polegato, the charismatic president of Geox, has hired a team of high-caliber lawyers in Paris, including one who has defended Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, to take his legal fight all the way to France’s supreme court. He filed a detailed memorandum with the court, called the Court of Cassation, on July 15.

A French appeals court denied late last year a request by Graire to invalidate Moretti Polegato’s patents, but confirmed his right to make use of his own invention on a personal basis. A decision by the higher court is expected around mid-2006, about three years before the rights to Moretti Polegato’s original patents fall into the public domain. Graire said he had struck a deal with an American company to come out with a lower-priced products based on his own invention, but he now says that the unnamed company prefers to wait first for the outcome of the new judicial round.

Geox is still having a hard time in gaining a significant presence in the US market, but it’s developing rapidly in the Germanic countries, where its sales rose by 54 percent to €41.3 million in the first six months of 2005. To help reinforce its market position in the region, Geox is opening a single-brand store in Salzburg, Austria. It’s located in the famous Getreidegasse, the street where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born.

As already reported, the company’s revenues jumped by 31 percent to €228.6 million in the 1st half of this year, but while the Germanic countries all posted increases of more than 40 percent, the USA was down by 35.4 percent to €4.8 million.

Geox has now reported a 34 percent increase in net profit to €37.3 million for the 1st half ended last June 30. Operating income grew by 44 percent to €63.7 million before amortization and depreciation (Ebitda), indicating an improved margin of 27.9 percent. The biggest progress came from the major European markets outside Italy, where the Ebitda grew by 78 percent to 22.6 percent of sales. After amortization, Geox’ operating profit (Ebit) rose by 41 percent to €54.0 million during the 6-month period, reaching 23.6 percent of sales. Free cash flow jumped to €12.5 million.