Everything You Need to Know About Nike Suing BAPE
Well, ladies and gentle sneakerheads, it finally happened: Nike are suing BAPE. Why it took so long will always remain one of the sneaker industry’s great mysteries, but this week the Swoosh took aim at Nigo’s beloved Ura-Harajuku label, calling into question several of their popular silhouettes.
The brand with the iconic ‘Cloud Camo’ print now has nowhere to hide. Here’s everything you need to know about the lawsuit.
Wait, What Happened?
Nike are suing BAPE. They’re stipulating that the Japanese imprint have been plagiarising some of Nike’s most recognisable sneakers, including the Air Force 1, Dunk and Air Jordan 1 – three bestsellers.
Originally reported by Reuters, The Manhattan federal lawsuit states that BAPE’s footwear business ‘revolves around copying Nike’s iconic designs’, and that some of the silhouettes are ‘near verbatim’ copies.
More specifically, the BAPE STA, BAPE STA Mid, SK8 STA, COURT STA High and COURT STA were all cited in the lawsuit.
Are BAPE's Models Actually Knockoffs?
Can we say ‘yes’ without getting sued? The BAPE STA, for instance, is practically a stitch-by-stitch knockoff of the Air Force 1 – sans Swoosh and Air units of course. The only realistic defence BAPE have is to argue that the models are a ‘homage’, although this likely won’t go very far in court…
As per the lawsuit, Nike are arguing that BAPE’s sales were rather ‘sporadic’ until 2021, when the label ‘drastically increased the volume and scope of its infringement’. In other words, BAPE are making more shoes – and a lot more money.
‘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 determined.
Nike have also been aggressive in filing scorched earth cease and desist letters of late. The Swoosh have gone after numerous independent sneaker companies that have sold designs ‘inspired’ by classics from the Nike catalogue - most notably models like the Air Force 1 and Dunk.
Have Nike Confronted BAPE Before?
According to the lawsuit, Nike actually met with BAPE way back in 2009 to discuss copyright infringement. The meeting resulted in BAPE shutting the doors on most of its US stores, and greatly diminishing its activities stateside.
In 2016, BAPE redesigned the popular BAPE STA model to resemble less of the Air Force 1. But in 2021, the label reintroduced the original model, no doubt sparking the chagrin of Nike.
Does It Have To Go To Court?
Nike stated that BAPE ‘refused’ to stop the alleged violations when asked… politely.
How Much Cash Is on The Line?
At the time of writing, the amount of money for damages is unspecified. Keep it locked to SF for all information once it becomes publicly available.
Remind Me Who BAPE Are…
A Bathing Ape (more commonly known as BAPE) practically invented the idea of high end streetwear in Japan. Founded by Nigo in Ura-Harajuku in 1993, BAPE are coveted globally for iconic pieces like the shark hoodie and Baby Milo graphics.
Spawning a cult following in the 2000s, BAPE have collaborated with everyone from Kanye West to KAWS, and have steamrolled in popularity in recent years thanks to the gaudy 2000s revival.
Of course, part of their appeal also lies in the playful ‘reinterpretation’ of classic Nike sneakers.
For all the latest updates in the lawsuit, make sure to bookmark our page which we’ll continue to populate as news rolls in.