BAPE, the Japanese streetwear brand known for its iconic shark hoodies and camouflage patterns, is currently facing a lawsuit from sportswear giant Nike. The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, accuses BAPE of copying some of Nike's most popular sneakers.
The lawsuit has claimed that BAPE's sneakers "revolves around copying Nike's iconic designs", with BAPE being accused of releasing various copies of the Air Force 1's, Air Jordan 1's, and Dunk lineups as well as other various Trademark Infringement allegations. Nike has ordered BAPE to stop the sales of their shoes as well as request an undisclosed amount of money damages.
Similar situations of Trademark Infringement have been seen in the industry, it is no new story. With various copyright rules that allowed BAPE to deliver their shoes in a similar fashion to Nike, it appears that the reason Nike made a push with this case was because of BAPE's resurgence in the US markets as well as the larger production of shoes. It has been noted in the lawsuit that "after years of de minimis"(meaning too small or inconsequential), Nike has finally been able to make a significant case of the situation. Because of BAPE's re-introduction of the original, BAPE STA, as well as the re-introduction of various other "Trademark Infringing" designs, Nike has finally delivered the lawsuit. With no current response from BAPE, we will see how this story develops.
As this story continues to develop, the latest is brought to you by Bape's lawyers. Bape's lawyers have claimed that Nike and Bape had come to an agreement in 2009 regarding the licensing agreements for the Bape STA.
From an email quoted in 2009 from Bape's lawyers, “We appreciate your efforts in coming over to Japan to discuss and present the license agreement in person, On careful review the license is not something we can rush to agree to since we do not perceive that Nike would have, at this late date, if at all, any viable or actionable claims against Nowhere/Bape.”
As this story continues to unfold, we will be continuously updating this page for the most recent and accurate information!
The case can be found under Nike Inc v. USAPE LLC, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:23-cv-00660.