Adidas and affiliate Reebok have filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit against 196 online retailers for allegedly flouting counterfeit versions of sportswear by rapper, producer and fashion designer Kanye West.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Florida, doesn’t call anyone a gold digger, but does name a long list of defendants over claims they earned “substantial profits” by promoting, selling and distributing fake or “confusingly similar” imitations of trademarked goods.
West is a Chicago rapper who rose to fame with hits like “Gold Digger,” “Heartless,” “No Church in the Wild” and “Jesus Walks.” He is married to reality television star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian West.
This isn’t the first time West’s name has been “used” this year.
Following his unexpected political monologue opposite a bemused President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in October, West declared he was distancing himself from politics, claiming, ”I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in.” Before that, he had emerged as an unlikely Trump supporter. West said in that Oval Office meeting that wearing Trump’s “ Make America Great Again” hat had made him feel like Superman. But he has since appeared to pledge allegiance to policies championed by former U.S. President Barack Obama.
But just as West stepped out of the political limelight, a new lawsuit by companies sponsoring his sports line focuses on the alleged misuse of the rapper’s moniker.
Many of the alleged pirated products include footwear, sportswear and sports equipment, designed by West and sponsored by Adidas and Reebok. They’re being sold online on dozens of websites that include West’s nickname, “Yeezy,” in their titles.
According to the complaint, the defendants used West’s “famous name” and the companies’ widely recognized trademarks to “drive internet consumer traffic to their websites,” many of which ”harm” the brand’s reputation in South Florida and beyond.
The plaintiffs span four countries, and include Adidas A.G. in Germany, Adidas International Marketing B.V. in the Netherlands, Adidas America Inc. in Oregon, Reebok International Ltd. in England, and Reebok International Ltd. in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit seeks $2 million from each defendant and $100,000 in statutory damages for every ”cybersquatted” domain name. It also requests that all “illegal” websites be shut down.
“Welcome to our online shop where you can enjoy a happy shopping, where you can experience the first-class after-sale service,” reads one defendants’ homepage, 2017yeezy.com, which also appears to brandish Adidas’ logo.
Another site, Okyeezy.com, sells a range of Adidas sneakers and also claims to have a “strong manufacture plant” and “excellent quality” products.
Some sites, like Buyfakeyeezys.com, are less subtle in name.
The defendants have no assigned attorneys and do not appear to have been served with the lawsuit as of press time.
Read the full complaint:
The sale of counterfeit products, according to the complaint, has grown at an “exponential” rate.
“Plaintiffs suffer ongoing daily and sustained violations of their respective trademark rights at the hands of counterfeiters and infringers,” the complaint said.
The plaintiffs’ list of registered trademarks date back to 1970 and range from sports gear to laptop covers, sandals and sunglasses. Sneakers endorsed or designed by NBA stars Michael Jordan and James Harden, and soccer legend David Beckham are also among those potentially affected.