Nike has had several high-profile run-ins with notorious bootleggers over, who have made money off of iconic Nike silhouettes such as the Dunk and Air Jordan 1. Most recently, the Swoosh went after Warren Lotas, who had designed a bootleg version of the Nike Dunk and was selling his “Grim Reaper” version for a pretty penny.
Nike sought to stop Lotas and others from infringing on its trademarks and were ultimately successful. Now the sportswear giant has been given even more ammunition in their fight against bootleggers courtesy of the US Patent & Trademark Office. The USPTO reportedly granted Nike official registration certificates for the trade dress designs of the Nike Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 1 Low, and Air Jordan 1 Low SE.
In layman’s terms, Nike now owns the basic design of an Air Jordan 1 (which includes the placing of the paneling on the upper). This means that bootleggers that do not alter the design of the shoe (or don’t change the design enough, by just putting a new logo on the side of the sneaker) risk being found guilty of trademark infringement.
Nike’s relentless pursuit of legal action against Lotas and others was met with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Nike is the rightful owner of the designs and shouldn’t have to let other people make money off of what is essentially their product, however, bootlegging and customization is a central theme throughout sneaker and streetwear history. To infringe on the freedoms of the artists that engage in such activities could be seen as going against what the culture is all about.
Nevertheless, Nike now has a huge ace up its sleeve for any future legal battles. As always, stay tuned for more info.