Could Nike Sue Bape?
Complex says: Anyone who’s ever looked at one of A Bathing Ape’s popular Bapestas has surely noticed their striking similarity to Nike’s Air Force 1s — sans Swoosh and plus gaudy colorways. Though neither Nike nor Nigo will comment on this astounding likeness, one can’t help but wonder if Nike could sue Nigo for patent infringement? “If [a sneaker is] functionally the same but looks a little different, you’re safe,” says Dick Turner, a partner at the Sughrue law firm in Washington, D.C. “Changing things just a little bit will change the look enough where it will be outside of the design patent. To win on a design patent it almost has to be copied.” Sneaker companies file for design and technology patents by submitting a drawing to the United States Patent and Trademark Offices. (According to the USPTO’s website, Nike owns over 2,000 patents.) While design patents are a fairly recent phenomenon, it’s much easier to file for technology infringement. “Take the [Reebok] Pumps,” Turner says. “Anybody else that makes a pump-able shoe is going to have problems regardless of what it looks like. It covers a pretty big area of real estate.” And thus it seems that Nigo may continue pumping Air Faux-ce 1s all the livelong day, ay!