Big news on the blogs today: Eddie Van Halen and his merch crew are suing Nike over a Dunk Low that looks like his Frankenstein guitar. Does it look like the iconic Van Halen print? Yes. Can they prove it? Doubtful. The lawsuit could potentially add a smidgen of press to promote the band's next tour, but as far as money, chances of Eddie catching anything are low. What the suit will do, however, is likely get the sneakers taken off of shelves, removing a decent kick from the market. It's no Nylon Dunk, but you know, for some kid out there, these are the perfect shoes to match his "Running with the Devil" T-shirt.
This whole process got us to thinking. Usually it's Nike's law team that is on the "taking sneakers off the shelf" tip. Whether it's proactive to avoid a suit, or going after little guys trying to get a nut, their team is top notch, so it rarely comes to actual legal blows. Read on for some recent examples of the Swoosh cock-blocking the sneaker game because of a stupid little thing called "copyright laws"...
2005: NIKE SB DUNK HIGH PRO "GUCCI"
• The Gucci Dunks were originally supposed to be part of a Team Manager series, and were designed by the team at Girl Skateboards. Two problems with this one. Nike lawyers said, "No fucking way." And Girl's sister company, Lakai, was like, "Come on dudes, you can't play us like that." The sneaker has never come out, although a take down is due from regular Nike in a few months.
2003: NIKE SB DUNK LOW PRO "Heineken"
• Even when sneakers actually make it to the shelves, Nike lawyers are still the puppet masters. When the king of Dutch Beers got wind of the skate-kids calling the dunks pictured above the "Heineken" dunks, the liquor company allegedly issued a cease and desist to the Swoosh. Nike lawyers strong armed shops to pull the Dunks and the sister SB sneaker, the Air Angus "Pabst Blue Ribbon" off the shelves, to avoid any conflict. The limited quantity has since turned the Heineken Dunk into one of the most coveted (and counterfeited) sneakers on the marketplace, and it's funny 'cause today, both Heineken and PBR would probably put up a pretty check to get their own SB. Ah well.
2006: ARI MENTHOL 10
• The Newport cigarette box has an upside-down Swoosh on it. Sneakers are addictive. Ari Foreman thought, "Hey, one plus one equals awesome!" Nike's lawyers responded with, "One plus one equals get these sneakers the fuck out of ALIFE and Clientele before we kill your family." And that was the end of that. Check Cinqua.com, the official site documenting the project.
2008: MIKE23 CHUCK
• Um, yeah. The MIKE brand was inspired by the great one, taking the elephant print from the Jordan III and putting it on all kinds of things like umbrellas, couches, sunglasses, and sneakers 'inspired' by the Chuck Taylor. Nike laywers, "Um, yeah. "Inspired" isn't going to cut it. Give us those." Robert Walker from the New York Times followed this closely.
• Gourmet hasn't officially spoken about the removal of the Jordan-esque silhouettes from its Spring 2009 line, a grouping of sneakers that defined the early years of the brand. It could be that they are one and done with the idea and are maturing to new design theories. Doubtful. We're going to go out on a limb and say that the conversation went down behind closed doors a little like this: "Hey, Gourmet. It's Jordan, and we're sending you this piece of paper telling you to stop, but wanted to give you a call too. We know what you guys are doing, but we don't want to go after you too hard since these are really sick, and since UNDFTD is such a key account we don't want to mess anything up. Can you guys just stop? Pleeeease?" The new line is better without them anyway.