Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike had chosen to stay silent on its case versus designer Warren Lotas, who’s not only been accused of copying the brand’s Dunk-related design features, but is also using the controversy to gin up interest for replacement products. However, after a California federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on November 20, 2020 banning Lotas from selling two silhouettes resembling Nike’s Dunk Low sneaker, the athletic giant finally issued a statement.
A press release from the brand read: “Nike is pleased with the preliminary injunction order issued. Nike filed this lawsuit to defend and protect its intellectual property and clear up confusion in the marketplace between legitimate customizations and unlawful fakes. By prohibiting the sale of the fake Nike Dunks, yesterday’s order is an important step towards achieving that goal.”
Judge Mark Scarsi ruled that Lotas and anyone associated with him are prohibited from fulfilling any of the preorders for the Staple Pigeon OG, Freddy Broccolini Chanclas, and any “illegal fakes” of the NIke Dunk. Lotas and associates are also barred from “promoting, offering to sell, selling, and/or taking additional preorders” for the Dunk design.
Just as importantly, the ruling also addresses Lotas’ attempt to pivot with a replacement shoe called the Reaper (above), which mimicked design elements of the Dunk but didn’t include the Jason Swoosh that drew Nike’s ire.
The courts warned Lotas he couldn’t use the buzz generated by interest in the Dunk look-a-like shoes to drive interest in new models. The court order reads, “Warren Lotas plans on benefiting from this initial interest in the WL Pigeon and WL Broccolini by now offering the Reaper to customers who preordered the WL Pigeon or WL Broccolini. It is irrelevant that Warren Lotas has informed these customers that the Reaper is not affiliated with Nike, because the initial interest confusion attached prior to that disclaimer.”
Lotas did score one small victory. The court denied Nike’s request to freeze money from bootleg pre-orders to be held in escrow and eventually refunded to customers.