What looked at first like a relatively tame bout of litigation between Nike and resell giant StockX escalated this week, turning a lawsuit that was initially focused on trademark infringement via non-fungible tokens into a larger conversation about fake sneakers on the secondary market. There are many significant details missing in this latest phase, but it’s still given the sneaker public some of its most enticing drama since the last major sneaker industry allegations.
The battle between Nike and StockX turned deliciously messy when the former asked to amend its original complaint on Tuesday, submitting to the court a revised lawsuit that accused StockX of selling fake sneakers. Nike raised the stakes in doing so, calling into question not just StockX’s new NFT program but the legitimacy of its entire operation.
Every product sold on StockX is authenticated by the company—when a sale goes through, the seller submits the item to StockX to be verified; if it’s deemed authentic, the seller receives a payout and the item is shipped to the buyer. If not, the order is canceled. This process helped separate StockX from competitors like eBay, which only recently added an authentication service for sneakers. (Full disclosure: eBay is a sponsor of the Complex Sneakers Podcast, a show I cohost.) StockX’s legitimacy as a middleman that can verify whether sneakers are real is one of the things the business was built on.
In its lawsuit, Nike has challenged that legitimacy by saying it was able to acquire fake sneakers through StockX. The reselling platform responded to that claim with a statement the next day, defending its sneaker authentication process while slinging some mud back at Nike.
Here’s what’s happened in the Nike v. StockX lawsuit so far, as well as this writer’s opinions on the twists and turns that got us here.