Nike files a lawsuit against the sports shoe brand against Bape

American sportswear giant Nike has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Japan’s most beloved streetwear brand A Bathing Ape, colloquially known as Bape, in a court project in New York this week, saying that “the company’s current footwear business revolves around copying iconic Nike designs.”

Based on court records shared by Reuters, the lawsuit reflects what Nike says is a nearly 20-year tension between the two companies, which began when Bape first started selling its candy-colored casual shoes in the United States. in 2005. The brochure includes a full-page chart, with photos, comparing some of the two brands’ most popular shoes—Bapestas by A Bathing Ape next to Nike’s Air Force 1, Bape Sk8 Stas next to Nike. Nike Dunks and Court Stas alongside the Air Jordan 1s—with detailed shots highlighting specific design elements, including the eyelet and unique ridge pattern. The filing also marks the second major trademark infringement claim brought by a multinational sportswear company against a relatively smaller brand in Manhattan’s Southern District Court in the United States. this month: two weeks ago, Adidas loses the lawsuit against Thom Browne on the side stripe motif of the luxury label.

“[Until] recently,” Nike’s lawsuit reads, “The sale of infringing shoes by BAPE in the United States is minimum and inconsistent. For fifteen years, the presence of BAPE’s infringing footwear in the United States was like the famous Whac-A-Mole video game: infringing products appeared and disappeared from the U.S. market for many years. ; BAPE opened stores in the United States and then closed a few years later; and BAPE were acquired by a Hong Kong fashion conglomerate that has shifted BAPE’s focus to markets outside the United States.”

In the lawsuit, Nike acknowledged that, prior to 2021, the number of “infringing” pairs Bape sold “never was more than a fraction of the millions of pairs Nike sells annually,” and said the company approached Bape in 2009 about the shoe’s similarities. , then Bape agreed to redesign its flagship Bapesta sneakers. But in 2021, Nike says, Bape has reverted to the original “mimicry” design.

“Copying by BAPE has been and has always been unacceptable to Nike, and as recent BAPE violations have become a significant danger to Nike’s rights, Nike must act act now,” the lawsuit states.

Ape Bathing Ape founder Nigo wears a pair of the brand’s sneakers at an event hosted by Pharrell in New York City, January 2005.Johnny Nunez/Getty Pictures

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