Nike Names BAPE in Trademark Suit

The case “Nike, Inc. v. USAPE LLC” involves a trademark infringement dispute between Nike, Inc., and USAPE LLC, the company behind the streetwear brand BAPE (A Bathing Ape).

Nike sued the streetwear brand BAPE in 2021 for allegedly infringing the Dunk, Air Force 1, and Air Jordan 1 marks.

Nike argues that BAPE’s unauthorized use of the Dunk, Air Force 1, and Air Jordan 1 marks and/or confusingly similar marks runs afoul of its rights in the “famous and well-known” sneakers, as the lookalike sneakers are likely to confuse consumers into believing “in error that BAPE’s infringing products have been authorized, sponsored, approved, endorsed, or licensed by Nike or that BAPE is in some way affiliated with Nike”.

Nike sets out claims of federal trademark infringement and false designation of origin/unfair competition, as well as trademark infringement and dilution under New York General Business Law. It is seeking injunctive relief to bar BAPE from continuing to make, market, and sell the allegedly infringing footwear, and monetary damages, including an award of three times the amount of compensatory damages and increased profits.

The Nike vs BAPE trademark case was interesting because it showcased the intersection of streetwear and athletic wear, and the legal battles that can arise from it. It also highlighted the importance of trademarks in the highly competitive and profitable sneaker industry, as well as the efforts of companies to protect their intellectual property.

This case showed one again that trademarks are important for several reasons:

Brand Identity: Trademarks help establish a unique brand identity and distinguish a company’s products from others.

Consumer Recognition: Trademarks allow consumers to easily recognize and associate a product with a specific brand.

Legal Protection: Trademarks provide legal protection against infringement, allowing companies to take legal action against others who use their trademarked names or logos without permission.

The sneaker industry is highly competitive and profitable, making it crucial for companies to protect their intellectual property. This is because a strong brand and reputation can significantly impact a company’s sales and success. Protecting trademarks helps ensure that a company’s investments in product design and marketing are not diminished by others profiting from the company’s intellectual property.

Companies should therefore put some effort into protecting their intellectual property because:

Competitive Advantage: Protecting intellectual property can give a company a competitive advantage by preserving its unique products, processes, and brand identity.

Revenue Protection: Intellectual property protection helps prevent others from profiting off a company’s creations, thereby protecting its revenue stream.

Legal Right: Protecting intellectual property is a legal right that allows a company to take action against infringement and protect its creations.

Reputation: A company’s reputation can be damaged if its intellectual property is used without permission, and protecting intellectual property helps maintain a positive reputation.

Investment Protection: Protecting intellectual property helps protect the investments made in research and development, marketing, and branding.

Overall, protecting intellectual property is important for a company’s success and long-term viability in a competitive market.

We’d love to discuss how IP can benefit your company and help you achieve your business goals. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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