Nike's Warren Lotas lawsuit keeps getting more and more embittered. In a new twist, Jeff Staple has come to Lotas' defense after Nike issued an injunction against him for allegedly ripping off its "Pigeon" sneaker design.
Staple's original "Pigeon" Nike SB Dunk design is one of the most coveted Nike sneakers to ever release. An original pair recently sold at auction for a whopping $25,200. However, he doesn't seem to mind Lotas' move. Speaking to Ben Kickz on Sneaker Talk, the founder of Staple Pigeon addressed the contentious issue of designers and customizers making knockoff versions of existing sneakers.
Without explicitly defending Lotas, he said, "I'm always a fan of DIY bootleg culture. I just love it. That's how Staple started. To me, that's where true creativity happens." Staple was careful not to comment directly on an ongoing legal matter but conceded that such disputes are inherently complicated. "I can see the perspective on both sides, but I will say that brands have always pushed the culture forward and it's always been uncomfortable for certain parties."
He continued, "No one's buying a Shoe Surgeon or Warren Lotas shoe to trick their friends. It's a different thing. You don't go to warenlotas.com, add a $300 dollar item to your cart and be like 'ah, he tricked me, man. I thought these were the Pigeons. I thought these were the Stussys.'"
ICYMI: The controversy kicked off in September when Lotus offered a pre-order of his latest Nike SB Dunk lookalike sneaker—a silhouette inspired by Staples' "Pigeon" featuring a Swoosh modified with a Jason Voorhees hockey mask. Soon after, Nike filed a lawsuit against Lotas, accusing him of selling fake versions of its trademarked designs.
Lotas then took to Instagram to reveal his Reaper sneaker in its inaugural “Chainsaw” colorway. He went on to assure consumers who pre-ordered the allegedly infringing sneakers that they will get them. That offer soon changed to a promise to replace them with another shoe, which Nike also sued over because the replacement still looked “confusingly similar” to its trademarked Dunk outsole.
In an IG caption, Lotas noted that Nike's lawsuit is unnecessary and only serves to “intimidate other small businesses from exercising their creative freedom in the future.”
Back in September, Warren Lotas posted a picture of the shoe in question, labeling it a reinterpretation of the original Pigeon Dunks. "An official reinterpretation of a fucking CLASSIC," the brand said in the Instagram caption, going on to add, "THIS IS A WARREN LOTAS SHOE, IT IS PRODUCED FROM SCRATCH BY ME. PLEASE KNOW THAT. NO ALIBABA BULLSHIT. ITALIAN MATERIALS."
In the post, WL also shouted out the designer of the OG Pigeon Dunks, Jeff Staple, alluding to a collaborative effort between the two, or at the very least, suggesting Staple gave his blessing. Staple himself then promoted the pre-sale of the Warren Lotas sneaker on his own Instagram page.
As you can see by looking at a picture of the original Dunks above and the Warren Lotas variation below, they look almost identical, down to the Swoosh branding and pigeon embroidery.
Nike's Notice of Motion and Motion for Preliminary Injunction was filed on October 19, the confusion already caused by the lookalike sneakers “will only escalate if Warren Lotas is allowed to fulfill the pre-orders.” If Warren Lotas were able to “flood the market with its fakes,” Nike claimed that it would “lose control over its hard-earned reputation, and the goodwill [that it] has spent decades building in its trademarks will be damaged.” For this reason, Nike argued that Warren Lotas must be formally prohibited from “fulfilling the pre-orders for the infringing sneakers during the pendency of this action.”
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