In 2000, Japan-based fashion brand BAPE paid homage to the iconic Nike Air Force 1 with its own silhouette by simply swapping out the swoosh for a star with a lightning bolt. However, it seems like Nike was cool with the shoes’ similarity until now because it’s suing for copying its designs.
The suit was filed in New York Wednesday, Jan. 25, and states that BAPE has blatantly stolen some of its most classic kicks.
“BAPE is one such copyist whose infringements have recently grown to become a significant danger to Nike’s rights. BAPE’s current footwear business revolves around copying Nike’s iconic designs,” reads the court documents. “As shown below, five of BAPE’s footwear products—the BAPE STA, BAPE STA Mid, SK8 STA, COURT STA High, and COURT STA—are near verbatim copies of Nike’s Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1, and Dunk sneaker designs.”
The lawsuit then breaks down all of the design cues that BAPE copies, like the midsole and all the patents that Nike controls.
Nike’s legal team then gets into the history of BAPE, including its push to the U.S. footwear market in the early aughts, which would disappear then suddenly return after being purchased by Hong Kong fashion conglomerate I.T. Ltd.
While the suit says BAPE infringes on designs Nike owns, it also states that BAPE has never been able to move as much product as the Swoosh.
“And at all times prior to 2021, the quantity of BAPE’s infringing footwear in the United States was never more than a small fraction of the millions of pairs Nike sells annually,” the suit continues.
Nike previously asked BAPE to stop, but they refused, so legal action was the only option to protect its brand.
“BAPE’s copying is and always has been unacceptable to Nike, and because BAPE’s infringements have recently grown to become a significant danger to Nike’s rights, Nike must act now,” the lawsuit said. “Nike notified BAPE of its infringements and asked it to stop. BAPE refused to do so. Instead, BAPE continues to escalate its infringing activity. Nike, therefore, is forced to bring this lawsuit to stop BAPE’s unauthorized use of Nike’s trademarks.”
Besides requesting BAPE to stop selling its remixed sneakers permanently, Nike also wants an unspecified amount of money for damages.
See how Twitter’s reacting to the lawsuit below.
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