Nike Files Trademark Infringement Suit Against Rapper
Copyright and trademark infringement happens in many different ways. But recently, shoe maker Nike found out that when it comes to its sneakers, infringement and human blood will lead to a legal battle.
Alteration of a Trademark
As a general rule, you cannot take someone’s trademark or copyright and alter it only slightly, sell it to the public. Privately, you can do whatever you want—so, when it comes to Nikes, you could alter your own shoes at will. But alter them and sell them and you could have a problem.
Nike Files Suit
Nike’s lawsuit was filed by Nike against rapper Lil Nas X, who sold customized Nikes which he called “Satan Shoes.” The shoes have a devil-related pentagram and a reference to a bible verse that references Satan. But what really drew Nike’s ire, and which led to the infringement lawsuit, was the fact that each Nike apparently had a drop of human blood in them.
The shoes immediately sold out when they went on sale.
There are two problems with this scenario, legally (there may be loads more problems ethically and morally, but we’ll stick to the legal issues).
The first problem has to do with sales. When you alter someone else’s product and sell it, you are making money from their trademark. Companies spend millions of dollars building a brand, and getting the public to identify a slogan, look, model, or logo with your brand. When someone alters a product and sells it as their own, they are taking away profits that should belong to the company.
The second problem is that, in this case, putting human blood in a shoe is highly controversial, and, according to the lawsuit, dilutes Nike’s brand, standing and reputation in the general community. In fact, the lawsuit alleges, many people who were unaware that Nike had nothing to do with the “Satan Shoes,” have called for boycotts of Nike products.
Dilution and Trademark Infringement
A company like Nike, which pays millions to ensure goodwill with the public, and which wants its brand associated with positive, morally acceptable themes, and which undoubtedly makes millions from the sale of its shoes to kids, does not want to be associated with the devil, human blood, or any other part of the “Satan Shoe.”
The lawsuit alleges dilution of its brand—essentially, that the infringing action is lowering its brand’s status or reputation to the general public, or otherwise that the offender is doing something to make a brand less “special.”
Normally, the party suing has to prove that their trademark is worthy of protection—that it has an established reputation in the general community. But with a company like Nike, that part should be easy to prove. What happens to the rest of the lawsuit remains to be seen.
Do you have an infringement case or an intellectual property problem? We can help. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig for help today.