Nike Settles Bape Lawsuit

Bape will stop selling certain sneakers, change others, Nike says.

Bape Sneakers on Display at Bape Store New York 2005
Sneakers on display at the Bape store in New York City in 2005. Via Getty
Bape Sneakers on Display at Bape Store New York 2005

Nike settled its trademark infringement lawsuit against Japanese streetwear brand Bape on Monday, per a joint filing submitted in New York’s Southern District Court. The stipulated dismissal says that Bape and Nike entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the battle over Bape’s most popular sneakers, many of which are derived from classic Nike styles.

In a statement to Complex, Nike said that Bape agreed to discontinue its Bape Sta Mid, Court Sta, and Court Sta High sneakers, and modify the designs of the Bape Sta and Sk8 Sta.

“The lawsuit has been resolved through an amicable resolution,” Nike said in the statement.

Bape did not respond to a request for comment.

Nike filed the trademark infringement suit against Bape (also known as A Bathing Ape) in January 2023, accusing the brand of ripping off iconic Nike shoes like the Air Force 1 and Dunk. Filings in the case offered a rare glimpse into the relationship between Bape and Nike, with one excerpted email from 2009 suggesting that Nike once offered Bape a licensing deal for its shoes.

Comparison chart of Nike's trademarked sneaker designs and alleged BAPE infringements

The most recognizable Bape shoe, the Bape Sta, was introduced in the early 2000s as a flashy, more expensive alternative to Nike’s Air Force 1. That first Bape Sta was virtually the same as the retro Nike shoe, save for the upper’s Swoosh, which was replaced with a star logo on the Bape version.

In its complaint, Nike traced the history of Bape’s sneakers, arguing that the Japanese brand “drastically increased its infringement of Nike’s trademarks” since the early 2000s.

The Nike lawsuit was the latest in a long line of legal actions in the 2020s targeting labels that flip staple Nike silhouettes by stripping them of Nike’s logos and then rebranding them.

The conclusion is not a surprising one. Most of these lawsuits have ended in settlements, which usually involve the smaller brands agreeing in some way to modify their designs. At an initial pretrial conference on March 14, a lawyer for Bape said the parties were “remarkably close” to reaching a settlement.

According to Nike, Bape will change the Bape Sta and Sk8 Sta, which are based on the Air Force 1 and Dunk, respectively. Bape has changed the look of the Bape Sta before, altering it slightly to make its lines and shapes look more or less like the Air Force 1 over different iterations. Bape will also, Nike says, stop selling other models that are fashioned after Air Force 1 Mid, Air Jordan 1 Low, and Air Jordan 1 High.