This is very disturbing and sort of backs up what Geoff Burns told me on the phone last week. Geoff said that other companies haven't just copied the Vaporflys because of patents . Those patents mean that whatever they come up with will only be "almost as good." And since this is a niche market to begin with - with not all that much volume - there is no financial incentive for a company to spend a bunch of money trying to come up with an "almost as good shoe" that won't sell and won't be competitive.
If we want to be technical, it's more accurate to say that Nike's patent is on a "constant radius" plate for footwear. The shoe exec said that the position specifically of that radius is a key point. It's in the forefoot, which basically allows their patent to protect the perfect curved angle of a plate on the most effective area.
And as Alex Hutchinson noted last August in Outside, Nike has actually published a scientific paper showing how it's the extreme curve plate that is the key to their new shoes.
If this is all true, why wouldn't Nike dominate the racing flat market for 20 years?
And if that's the case, then I think World Athletics has two options a) Ban the shoes or b) Make Nike license the patent to others like they do in telecommunications. Apple, Samsung, etc all are forced to license technology to each other.