The US sportswear giant Nike has filed a lawsuit against the streetwear label Bape. According to this, the sneaker business of the Japanese brand should be based on “copying” the models from Nike.
In a court letter, Nike described the shoes in question, including two models of the Air Force 1 sneaker, the Dunk model and two Air Jordan 1 silhouettes. The images included in the letter are said to draw comparisons between the Nike designs and a range of Bape sneakers, including the Bape Sta, Sk8 Sta and the Court Sta model.
Nike stated that Bape’s violations “have recently become a significant threat to Nike’s rights” and argued that Bape’s actions can be traced back to 2005. It was then that Bape allegedly launched the first shoe infringing Nike’s rights in the United States.
It appears that this action was only taken because Bape has apparently increased the range of the shoe models in question in recent years. Nike stated that the company had “drastically increased the volume and scope of its breach”. Nike also pointed out that the company’s presence in the United States has not been constant over a 15-year period.
The lawsuit follows Bape’s increased presence in the United States
Nike added that they met Bape back in 2009 to address alleged knockoffs of the Air Force 1 sneaker model. As a result, Bape reduced its activities in the US and CEO Tomoaki Nagao – better known as designer Nigo – left the company.
In the meantime, however, Bape is growing rapidly in the US market and has opened countless branches. The company also introduced more designs resembling Nike shoes and re-launched models that had previously caused dissatisfaction.
“Bape’s copies are and always have been unacceptable to Nike, and as Bape’s violations have recently become a significant threat to Nike’s rights, Nike must act now,” the US sportswear giant said. “Nike notified Bape of the violations and asked the company to stop them. Bape refused to do so. Instead, Bape continues to expand its infringing activities. Nike is therefore compelled to bring this lawsuit to stop Bape’s unauthorized use of the Nike trademarks.”
The move follows a series of similar trademark lawsuits Nike has filed in recent years to stem potential trademark infringement. The brand recently filed a lawsuit against British shoe retailer Kurt Geiger, which also involved the Air Force 1 sneakers. The brand was also involved in a long legal battle with designer Warren Lotus over the Dunk Low model.
In this case, Nike is asking its competitor Bape to refrain from manufacturing, advertising and selling products that are essentially indistinguishable from Nike products. In addition, all actions that could affect the product quality and reputation of Nike should be avoided.
This translated post previously appeared on FashionUnited.uk.