Nike continues to take legal action against independent companies that it alleges are copying its trademarked sneaker designs. This time, the target is John Geiger, a well-known customizer-turned-designer who launched his own lifestyle brand in 2017.
According to Law360, an amended complaint filed by Nike Thursday added John Geiger Collection LLC as a defendant to an existing lawsuit against Los Angeles-based La La Land Production & Design Inc. Nike claims that Geiger’s “GF-01” shoes infringe the trade dress of its Air Force 1 and that La La Land is helping manufacture the lookalikes.
“By marketing and selling shoes using Nike’s registered Air Force 1 trade dress, John Geiger knowingly and intentionally creates confusion in the marketplace and capitalizes on Nike’s reputation and the reputation of its iconic shoes,” Nike states in the complaint.
If the name La La Land Production & Design Inc. sounds familiar, you may remember it as the production company named in the Nike v. Warren Lotas lawsuit over his “bootleg” Dunk designs last year. While Nike’s lawsuit against La La Land is being expanded, it no longer includes Lotas, who settled with the company last December.
La La Land has already responded to Nike’s latest move, having filed an amended counterclaim against the sportswear giant. It accuses the company of using “unduly aggressive, disproportionate, highly burdensome litigation strategies” to enforce “questionable” trade dress rights.
“Nike’s strategy aims to quash competition and intimidate legitimate businesses … that often lack the resources to defend themselves against such a well-resourced opponent,” said the manufacturer. “There is a bullying nature to these actions that chills creativity and lawful competition.”
Geiger himself took to Instagram to address the lawsuit on Friday evening. He suggests that Nike has benefited from the ideas of himself and other independent creators and gets candid about the inspiration behind the GF-01.
Prior to establishing his own brand, Geiger exploded onto the sneaker scene in 2015, when he linked up with sneaker customizer The Shoe Surgeon to produce “Misplaced Checks” Air Force 1s, authentic pairs of the model that were customized to feature a variety of Swoosh logos on the upper made of varying materials and textures.
Generally viewed as Nike’s most important sneaker, the Air Force 1 reportedly tallies more than $800 million in sales annually. In citing examples of market confusion, Nike pointed out its own authorized collaborations with designers and its Nike By You platform, which allows customers to design their own legit sneakers, including the Air Force 1. The complaint also included screenshots of Geiger’s Instagram activity, in which he acknowledged that the GF-01 is his version of the Air Force 1.