Unsealed Evidence in Nike Counterfeit Lawsuit Shows Fake Shoes, Lanyards, Neon Signs

In 700 pages of newly unsealed documents, lawyers for Nike capture the alleged counterfeit sneaker sales they say the defendants have participated in.

Image via Complex Original

When Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Illinois in January, accusing over 200 online stores of selling counterfeit Nike products, it kept the names of the defendants hidden from public view. The brand’s lawyers argued that alerting the alleged counterfeit peddlers named in the complaint would allow them to destroy evidence of their illicit activity and transfer their assets to off-shore accounts. This week, the court unsealed that list of names and other previously sealed documents in the case, including an exhibit comprising 751 pages that show exactly what the defendants are accused of selling.

The documents were unsealed as Nike was granted a preliminary injunction against the defendants. The injunction is practically identical to a temporary restraining order Nike secured in the case in February that barred the defendants from selling Nike gear and compelled the marketplaces where they operate—AliExpress, Amazon, and eBay—to turn over their account information and freeze their assets. Before their unsealing, Complex reported on the temporary restraining order and the list of defendants.

Unauthorized Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 keychain shown in an exhibit in a Nike trademark infringement lawsuit

The defendants are identified by store aliases (Xing Qi Store, Surpass Store, CYYTL Official Store, etc.) and URLs rather than actual names. Nike added new defendants to the case this week. The brand’s lawyers had previously said that the defendants were all based in either China or Hong Kong. 

The exhibit showing the alleged listings of the defendants consists of screenshots of online stores with a wide variety of Nike-branded merchandise. Some of the screenshots are of online stores selling shoes based on the Nike Air Force 1 that make small changes to the designs and their Nike logos. One page has an Air Force 1 clearly based on K-pop artist G Dragon’s Nike collaboration from 2020. There are also many more pairs that don’t draw closely from existing versions of the Air Force 1, some of them with LED lights embedded in their soles.

Other screenshots from the exhibit feature trinkets like lanyards, a neon sign made to look like an Air Jordan 1, AirPods cases, a Nike LeBron logo necklace, and an Off-White x Air Jordan 1 keychain all using unauthorized Nike trademarks.

“Defendants and their e-commerce stores do not conduct business with Nike,” wrote a lawyer for the brand when submitting the exhibit to the court, “and do not have the right or authority to use the Nike trademarks for any reason.”

Complex has uploaded the three parts of the exhibit for viewing here, here, and here.

Neither Nike nor the law firm in Illinois representing the brand responded to a request for comment. Complex reached out to the original 207 defendants this week, four of whom have replied. Their replies suggested they didn’t fully understand our questions due to a language barrier, but two of them claimed to have never sold anything Nike related in their online stores.

“I have never sold anything about Nike from my Amazon store,” wrote one of the defendants.