Nike is suing 589 websites, the owners of 676 social media accounts and more than 100 unidentified companies and individuals for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of its Nike and Converse shoes online.
Nike wrote in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan that its trademarks “are among the most widely recognized trademarks in the United States and around the world, as well as among the most popular with consumers. The fame and popularity of plaintiffs’ marks adds enormous value to the authentic … Nike products and Converse products.”
“The defendants, who have no affiliation with Nike or Converse, have attempted to capitalize on the popularity of plaintiffs’ marks by manufacturing and marketing counterfeit products falsely labeled as ‘Nike’ or ‘Converse,’” the company wrote.
Nike alleged that the defendants represent at least 42 networks of counterfeiters that sell bootleg versions of the company’s wares. In addition to suing entities tied to those networks, Nike also sued more than 100 individuals and companies whose names it doesn’t know, referring to them only as “ABC companies” and “John Does.”
The company said its investigators bought counterfeit Air Jordans, Nike Shox Gravity women’s sneakers and more as part of their probe into the alleged knock-offs.
“The vast majority of defendants’ infringing websites contain either vague or completely false statements as to the authenticity of the products being offered for sale,” Nike wrote in court papers. “Others claim to sell ‘unauthorized authentic’ Nike or Converse products that are in reality counterfeit products.”
“In other cases, defendants’ infringing websites freely admit that the products being offered for sale are ‘replica versions of Nike or Converse products, with ‘replica’ being a common euphemism used to describe counterfeit goods,” the company wrote.
Nike accused the defendants of nine counts of trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, trademark cyberpiracy and other illegal actions under federal and New York State laws.
The company wants the court to order the defendants to halt all manufacture and sale of counterfeit Nike and Converse products, and to deliver all existing counterfeits, packaging, advertising and similar material up for destruction.
Nike also wants the court to order the defendants to hand over damages equal to triple any profits from illegal sales, or up to a statutory maximum of $2 million “for each and every Nike and Converse [trademark] that defendants willfully counterfeited and infringed per type of good sold, offered for sale or distributed.”
It also seeks punitive damages, reimbursement of lawyer fees and statutory damages of $100,000 per alleged infringing domain name.
Taking a Hard Line Against Alleged Counterfeits
Nike has a long history of aggressively defending its trademarks.
Last month, the company reached a confidential settlement with streetwear designer Warren Lotas’ brand after suing for alleged copyright infringement. The company sued after Lotas began offering what the designer reportedly called “custom dunks” – shoes allegedly similar to the popular Nike Dunks shoes.
Women’s Wear Daily reported that Lotas called the shoe “an official reinterpretation” of a “classic” shoe in an Instagram post.
But in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court, Nike called Lotas a “bad actor” who was merely “promoting and selling fakes of coveted Nike Dunks,” as per Women’s Wear Daily.
“Nike protects its iconic sneaker designs, and its intellectual property in those designs, by rooting out bad actors that undermine the DNA of sneaker culture by promoting and selling fakes,” the company wrote in court papers.
Neither side disclosed terms of the settlement, but WarrenLotas.com currently says “Site is closed. Thank you for your continued support!…” PYMNTS.com