Tis’ the season for naughty and nice lists, and Jolly Ol’ Saint Nike is putting plenty of “bad actors” on its naughty list.
The latest due for a lump of coal in his stocking is rapper Lil’ Gnar, born Caleb Shepard, and his brand of shoes called Gnarcotic, which Nike describes as nothing more than a knockoff of its own distinguished Dunk series.
Filing suit in U.S. District Court of California on Dec. 2, Nike complained of trademark infringement, false designation of origin/unfair competition and trademark dilution. Its attorneys want damages paid for harm to the Nike brand name, all proceeds from sales of the offending shoes, a cease and desist from any further production as well the delivery of all remaining inventory to Nike for immolation.
The suit against Gnarcotic was lodged just three days after Nike filed a similar suit against a pair of shoe designers and YouTube celebrities Kiy and Omi. As with that case, Nike asserted it tried to reason with the defendants before taking them to court. Unlike that case, where the sneaker company said it was ignored in its attempts to negotiate, Nike said it did make contact with Gnarcotic on multiple occasions and Gnarcotic told Nike it would cease selling the objectionable materials.
Then on Nov. 21, all those good feelings went out the door.
The complaint said, “… any hope that Nike and Gnarcotic could reach an amicable resolution to Gnarcotic’s infringement ended with Gnarcotic’s announcement on its social media account that it intended to sell the “Gnarcotic SBs v2 ‘Concrete’” sneakers on Black Friday, as shown below. Notably, in addition to infringing Nike’s Dunk trade dress, Gnarcotic’s “Concrete” colorway also infringes Nike’s registered Elephant Print trade dress,” according to court documents.
Nike said it tried to be benevolent yet again sending a second cease and desist letter, to which Gnarnotic replied, “…that it would not sell the Gnarcotic v2 sneakers and that all images and references to the sale of this model would be removed from Gnarcotic’s website and social media accounts. Simply put,” Nike attorneys said. “That did not happen.”
The 31-page document, filed 12 days after the second rebuff, includes photos of Nike and Gnarcotic shoes side-by-side that, the company says, show clear proof of copycatting.
Lil Gnar is listed as the owner on the Gnarcotic website, which says it predated the rapper’s musical career.
“[Gnarcotic] started off as a skate brand long before Lil Gnar thought about making music,” the website reads. “The brand has released T-shirts, hoodies, and various other items in its short existence.”
Gnarcotic did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.