Two years after reaching a settlement with the sportswear company, the New York City streetwear brand again alleged trademark infringement Thursday, this time in connection with a trio of shoes released in collaboration with store owner Vic Lloyd.
Milkcrate—a brand that claims to have produced, styled, remixed and collaborated with artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Madonna—originally sued Adidas in 2019 for creating a Brooklyn Nets T-shirt that it said made use of its signature crate logo.
Since settling that suit, Adidas has released three sneakers with Lloyd, the first in February 2020 and the most recent this past July. All three styles bear a crate design on the tongue that Milkcrate alleges infringes on its trademark. The brand draws a direct line between the current dispute and the 2019 lawsuit, for which it accuses “senior management” of “blatant disregard” for its trademarks and copyrights.
“Adidas is following in the footsteps of [its] past and again developing products that rip-off [Milkcrate’s] mark,” the lawsuit argues.
In this most recent instance, Milkcrate claims the crate design on Adidas’ Vic Lloyd sneakers “is indistinguishable” from the design used on the tags of its own sneakers. In this context, it claims, Adidas’ design causes “a likelihood of confusion.” Milkcrate said it has received multiple inquiries from consumers, business associates and friends wondering if it was involved with the disputed sneakers.
While Adidas’ awareness of Milkcrate is a given due to the pair’s past legal entanglement, the streetwear brand also claims the company’s collaborator on the infringing shoes had “full knowledge” of its brand, copyrights and trademarks. According to the lawsuit, Lloyd was a wholesale buyer of the Milkcrate brand for more than 10 years when he worked at the Chicago streetwear store Leaders.
The suit also names Leaders’ owner, Corey Gilke. Though he had no apparent involvement in the three disputed sneakers, Milkcrate claims Adidas “conspired” with both Lloyd and Gilke, when it “teamed up with them to design these new Adidas shoes.” The suit also includes screenshots of alleged messages between Gilke and Milkcrate founder Aaron LaCrate showing the former threaten the latter with violence.
Beyond enjoining Adidas from further using its trademarks or copyrights, Milkcrate’s lawsuit also requests the court order Adidas to recall and deliver up for impoundment all infringing items.
The litigation comes as Adidas pursues its own trademark infringement case against Thom Browne. The suit accuses the high-end fashion brand of using two-, three- and four-stripe designs on sportswear and sneakers in a way it said was “likely to cause consumer confusion.”