Designer Warren Lotas has been one of the most talked about topics in sneakers this year thanks to his lookalike Nike SB Dunks. What started as a flip referencing 2007's "Jason Vorhees" pair has since spawned three other designs, each more closely resembling an actual Nike product. First was the Heineken-like "Toxic Green" in July, then a Stussy "Cherry" version in August. Last month, Lotas unveiled his most controversial project yet, a "Pigeon" Dunk in partnership with the shoe's original designer, Jeff Staple. The sneakers drew a split response on social media, with many purists taking issue with what was perceived as knockoff designs. Now, we're learning that Nike is suing Lotas over the alleged infringing designs.
In a filing yesterday in Los Angeles District Court, Nike explicitly calls out Lotas for "promoting and selling fakes of coveted Nike Dunks," namely the three aforementioned pairs.
"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," reads the suit. "Warren Lotas is one those bad actors."
In court documents obtained by Complex, Nike argues that Lotas' lookalike footwear is causing confusion in the marketplace by using the "Dunk" name and a logo comparable to the Swoosh. With the lawsuit, Nike says it hopes to protect its intellectual property and clarify any questions regarding the legitimacy of Lotas' designs. The brand claims that his shoes are not customs and are nothing more than "illegal fakes."
Elsewhere in the filing, Nike establishes the history of the Dunk model, highlighting its sought-after collaborations, namely Staple's Pigeon Dunk. "The Nike SB Dunk Low 'NYC Pigeon' has been referred to as the 'sneaker that started it all,' ultimately declaring the birth of sneaker culture," the document reads. Despite this, the brand does not appear to be taking any action against Staple for his involvement in Lotas' latest release.
Nike contends that it has suffered "irreparable injury to its business" and that its reputation will continue to be harmed until a permanent stop is put to Lotas' infringement.
In addition to ending the lookalike releases, Nike is seeking three-times the damages incurred, profits from Lotas' sales, and reimbursement of lawsuit and attorney fees. The brand is also requesting that Lotas turn over "shoes, apparel, digital files, packaging, printed graphics, promotional materials, business cards, signs, labels, advertisements, flyers, circulars" or any other items that use designs that are "confusingly similar" to the Swoosh logo.