Nike Inc sued Japanese fashion brand A Bathing Ape, also known as BAPE, in New York on Wednesday for allegedly copying some of its most famous shoes.
The shoe giant’s Manhattan federal court lawsuit said BAPE’s footwear business “revolves around copying Nike’s iconic designs,” and that some of its shoes are “near verbatim” copies of Nike’s Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1, and Dunk sneakers.
Representatives for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
BAPE, founded by designer Tomoaki Nagao, is owned by Hong Kong-based I.T. Ltd. According to the lawsuit, BAPE began selling products in the United States in the mid-2000s.
Nike said BAPE’s U.S. sales of the shoes were “sporadic” until 2021, when it “drastically increased the volume and scope of its infringement.”
“BAPE’s copying is and always has been unacceptable to Nike, and because BAPE’s infringements have recently grown to become a significant danger to Nike’s rights, Nike must act now,” the lawsuit said.
Nike also said BAPE “refused” to stop the alleged violations when asked.
The lawsuit said BAPE’s designs will cause confusion among potential customers. It cited secondary-market sellers who referred to the BAPE shoes as “Air Force 1s” or “Dunks.”
Nike asked the court to order BAPE to stop selling the shoes and requested an unspecified amount of money damages.
The case is Nike Inc v. USAPE LLC, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:23-cv-00660.
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