Why Nike Is Suing a Music Label Over the SB Shane Shoe

Nike Inc. is fighting back against independent music label Soulection’s claims of trademark infringement.

Days after the Swoosh released its Nike SB Shane Shoe this month, the brand received a cease and desist letter from Soulection alleging that the logo on the shoe violated the trademark rights for Soulection’s logo. Rather than yield to the cease and desist request, Nike is fighting back against the allegation through the courts: As first reported by The Fashion Law, the sneaker giant has filed a complaint against the artist collective seeking a “prompt judicial declaration of its rights so that it can put Soulection and its threats behind it.”

Nike, soulection
An image from the Nike filing showing the Soulection logo and Shane Sun Graphic side by side.

An image from the Nike filing showing the Soulection logo and Shane Sun Graphic side by side. In a Feb. 5 cease and desist letter, Soulection claimed that the Swoosh had engaged in “blatant and willful infringement” with its Nike SB Shane Shoe and was “undoubtedly attempting to intentionally evoke Soulection.” The music label said it would seek legal action against Nike should it not cease use of the Shane logo and pay a monetary settlement based on shoe sales.

Meanwhile, Nike claims the Shane Sun Graphic was developed through “a months-long iterative process aimed at how to best evoke Shane O’Neill, his interests, his style and his lifelong passion for skateboarding.” The athletic powerhouse claims it had no knowledge of Soulection’s logo. Therefore, Nike claims, Soulection’s cease and desist letter was meritless, and the music entity is an “opportunistic” party that made “legally unsound” claims.

“Contrary to Soulection’s overreaching assertions, Nike has not engaged in any wrongful conduct, let alone engaged in willful conduct, and Nike will not bend to Soulection’s unreasonable demands or its threats of imminent litigation based on a legally meritless position,” the filing reads.

Nike is seeking a declaratory judgment from Soulection that its use of the Shane Sun Graphic is “proper, lawful and does not…infringe and at all times has never infringed any common law trademark rights in the Soulection Logo.”

In response to FN’s request for comment, a spokesperson for Nike provided the following statement: “Nike has filed a declaratory judgment action in response to the threats of trademark litigation made by Soulection, despite the clear distinction between the parties’ logos, goods and services, and marketing channels.”

FN has also reached out to Soulection for comment.

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