In a pair of trademark suits filed this week in Oregon and California federal courts, the activewear retailer went after the sale of customized Nike Air Jordans and Chuck Taylor All Stars, targeting companies that sell artistic takes on Nike’s conventional fare.
In its suit against Kickrich LLC, Nike took issue with Kickrich’s products including custom shoes marketed as the “Custom Prime Nike Air Jordan 1” — Jordans modified to integrate the Amazon Prime iconography on the shoe’s upper. In another suit against Drip Creationz, Nike took issue with that company’s modifications of Air Force 1s to render the swoosh sign in designs including plaid and other quirky prints.
The custom shoes sell for up to thousands of dollars, the lawsuits said.
“Although defendants’ ‘custom’ products may use pieces of genuine Nike and Converse shoes, the genuine parts are so altered and combined with non-genuine parts or other brands’ logos that they can no longer be meaningfully considered Nike or Converse shoes,” Nike argued in one of the complaints. “Instead, they become new products over which Nike and Converse have no control.”
The suits follow Nike’s settlement earlier this year with MSCHF over the sale of rapper Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes,” tied to the visual themes of his hit video for “Call Me by Your Name” that he released in March.
With these suits, the sports retailer appeared to signal its broader disapproval of the notion of the sale of unauthorized artistic modifications to its shoes, and showing it will take perceived offenders to court.
“Nike and Converse have no desire to limit the individual expression of creatives and artisans, many of whom are some of the brands’ biggest fans,” Nike said in one of its latest suits this week.
“But Nike and Converse cannot allow ‘customizers’ like defendants to build a business on the backs of their most iconic trademarks, undermining the value of those marks and the message they convey to consumers,” it said.
“The more unauthorized ‘customizations’ get manufactured and sold, the harder it becomes for consumers to identify authorized collaborations and authentic products; eventually no one will know which products Nike and Converse have approved and which they have not,” Nike wrote in its complaint.
The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.