Nike Inc. is suing A Bathing Ape, also known as Bape, for trademark infringement for some of its most popular sneaker styles.
The sports giant filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Japanese streetwear brand at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for trademark infringement for “some of the world’s most valuable trademarks,” according to the lawsuit’s complaint, which includes the Nike Air Force 1, Nike Air Jordan 1 and Nike Dunk sneakers.
“Nike has spent decades building its rights and goodwill in those designs,” the complaint stated. “To protect its hard-earned rights, Nike has a legal obligation to stop copyists when infringements pose a significant danger to Nike’s rights.”
Nike is alleging that Bape’s trademark infringement started as early as 2005. But the suit said the infringement was “inconsistent” as the streetwear label’s “infringing products appeared and then disappeared from the U.S. market for years.” The complaint states that prior to 2021, Bape’s infringing products were produced in small quantities and were “never more than a small fraction of the millions of pairs Nike sells annually.”
The sports giant saw that after 2021, Bape’s presence in the U.S. began to grow, which posed a larger threat to Nike’s business. The complaint offers examples of sneaker publications and social media users commenting that Bape’s styles like the SK8 STA, the Court STA and the Court STA High resembled Nike’s own sneaker styles.
Prior to the lawsuit, Nike had demanded Bape stop producing its alleged infringing products, but the streetwear brand “refused to do so,” leading to Nike filing the lawsuit. Nike is asking the court to order Bape to stop selling the infringing products and is requesting monetary damages.
Both brands did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Nike’s lawsuit against Bape is the latest trademark infringement case to come from a sports giant in 2023. Earlier this month, Adidas went to court with Thom Browne for trademark infringement for its popular three-stripes motif, ultimately losing to the designer. Under Armour also embarked on a trademark infringement lawsuit, going to court against New York-based women’s activewear brand Armorina over its name. The sports giant prevailed over the activewear brand and an injunction was issued barring Armorina from using that name.