Nike Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Kiy and Omi
Nike continues their legal crackdown on copy-cat designers, with Air Jordan 1 aficionados Kiy and Omi next in their sights.
Yesterday, Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the southern district of New York against two sneaker designers and the manufacturer of their footwear.
Nike says defendants Nickwon Arvinger and David Weeks of By Kiy LLC (aka Kool Kiy) and Bill Omar Carrasquillo of Reloaded Merch LLC (Omi aka “Omi in a Hellcat”) have been “promoting, copying, and selling” Nike’s designs — the Air Jordan 1 and Dunk — as their own.
Nike’s lawyers say they notified Kiy of the alleged infringement on August 6, 2021, and attempted to reach a resolution with the company to no avail. They also contacted Omi on October 5, 2002 with a similar warning. The document sent to Omi, which was viewed by Complex, stated the brand had one week to contact Nike’s lawyers to discuss the matter or that it would face a federal lawsuit. Despite these advance warnings, yesterday’s lawsuit alleges that both Kiy and Omi have continued to profit off of the infringing designs.
In the lawsuit, Nike also names China-based manufacturer Xiamen Wandering Planet Import and Export Co., Ltd. (Wandering Planet for short). The filing states that Wandering Planet played a pivotal role in the infringement by providing the resources to produce shoes for Kiy and Omi. “By supplying Kiy and Omi with knockoff sneakers using Nike’s registered Air Jordan 1 and Dunk trade dress, Wandering Planet knowingly participated in a scheme to intentionally create confusion in the marketplace and capitalize on it,” the lawsuit reads.
Several side-by-side comparisons between actual Nike products and Kiy and Omi’s designs are littered throughout the documents, as are examples from social media posts from confused consumers. “Kool Kiy took the WHOLE Jordan 1 design,” reads one comment. “These are Jordans?,” reads another.
Along with trademark infringement, Nike says that Kiy and Omi’s designs are also grounds for counts of false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution. The Swoosh’s lawyers ague that the alleged knockoff sneakers are likely to confuse customers about the origin of the products and Nike’s connection to them, especially on the secondary market, where it highlights examples of resellers using variations of the Air Jordan 1 name to advertise Kiy’s products.
Kiy and Omi had a public disagreement of their own last year. According to Omi, the two competing designers had a falling out over their manufacturer. “I told him listen, if you don’t call back the manufacturer, I am going to release your shoe for cheaper,” Omi said. “So what I did was, I took the shoe, I took the brand and ran with it. It worked out for both of us honestly, because we’re both kind of popping off of it.”
Among its requests, Nike’s asking that the court block any further production and advertisement of the infringing sneakers. It also asks that the defendants provide any and all product, packaging, and promotional materials be sent to Nike for destruction. It’s also seeking compensation for all damages and related expenses, although an exact monetary value has not yet been determined.
Carrasquillo posted a message on Instagram in response to the news, saying he was under the impression the Omi brand was “in the clear” and that even his lawyer is “scratching his head” over the matter.
In a conversation with Complex, Carrasquillo says he believes the Omi Air Jordan 1-inspired model is different enough from the real thing but that the Dunk-inspired shoe will be an issue, admitting not enough changes were made from the original. “Everyone’s doing it, so I just thought, ‘It ain’t nothing,’ which was stupid on my part,” Carrasquillo says of the decision to not significantly alter the Dunk-inspired sneaker.
Kiy co-founder Weeks has also publicly posted about the lawsuit, although he did not elaborate beyond captioning his post “get ready for the paradigm shift.”