Sneaker giant Nike sues Japanese streetwear BAPE for copying its iconic designs

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Sneaker giant Nike Inc is taking Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape, also known as BAPE, to court for alleged copyright infringement.

The Swoosh is currently suing BAPE for copying some of their iconic sneaker designs, where Nike via its lawsuit cited that some of BAPE’s sneakers are ‘near verbatim’ copies of Nike’s Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1 and their Dunk sneakers, as reported by Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed at the Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, January 25.

BAPE which is a well-known Japanese streetwear especially in the 90’s was founded by designer Tomoaki Nagao and is currently owned by Hong Kong-based company, I.T Limited.

The sneakers designs that were accused of mimicking Nike are amongst BAPE’s top selling sneakers which includes the BAPE STA, BAPE STA Mid, SK8 STA, COURT STA as well as COURT STA High.

A screenshot of BAPE's alleged infringement designs from the lawsuit. — Screenshot from Nike Inc V. USAPE LLC lawsuit.

A screenshot of BAPE’s alleged infringement designs from the lawsuit. — Screenshot from Nike Inc V. USAPE LLC lawsuit.

Both parties have yet to comment on the matter however, Nike via its lawsuit said that BAPE began selling their products in the US in the mid-2000’s.

Although their sales were sporadic at first, in 2021, BAPE began drastically increasing the scope and volume of their products which includes the introduction of various designs for their sneakers which Nike claimed as ‘copies of their iconic designs’.

“BAPE’s copying is and always has been unacceptable to Nike, and because BAPE’s infringement has recently grown to become a significant danger to Nike’s rights, Nike must act now.

“Nike notified BAPE of its infringement 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 unauthorised use of Nike’s trademark,” the lawsuit read.

Nike asked the court to order BAPE to stop selling the sneakers and had also requested an unspecified amount of money damages.

The case is filed as Nike Inc V. USAPE LLC, US District Court of the Southern District of New York, No. 1:23-cv-00660.


Business Asia
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