Now that Adidas has cut ties with Kanye “Ye” West and his Yeezy brand, the future of the brand is in flux.
While the details of Ye’s contract with Adidas are unknown to the public, both parties appear to own certain elements within the deal, which began in 2013. In June 2016, Adidas and West announced they had extended their partnership, calling it a “Yeezy-branded entity creating footwear, apparel and accessories for all genders across street and sport.”
In its statement confirming the end of the Adidas Yeezy partnership, Adidas said that it is the sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership. However, Ye is likely the owner of the Yeezy name. In a 2019 interview with Forbes, West claimed he still owned 100% of Yeezy. However, as Jared Goldstein, a lawyer and the co-author of “Sneaker Law,” previously explained to FN, while West might still own the Yeezy name and likeness, that does not give him control over the future of the actual shoe designs. This falls under the purview of the entity that holds the intellectual property, which is Adidas.
For example, Adidas is listed as the applicant and assignee of a U.S. design patent for the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350, which was filed in 2016. Nic Galway, Adidas’ SVP of creative direction, is listed as the inventor.
“Traditionally, in any type of licensing agreement, the brand, Adidas, would own 100% of the intellectual property,” explained Goldstein.
This would give Adidas the power to rerelease designs from the archives or relaunch the designs in new colorways. And according to a Tuesday note from RBC Capital Markets, Adidas plans to start doing just that: selling Adidas-branded Yeezy designs in the first quarter of 2023 to help mitigate revenue loss.
“Adidas has the rights to existing Yeezy product designs and can sell these using adidas branding (not Yeezy branding) following the termination of the Yeezy partnership,” RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note.
Baird analyst Jonathan Komp also noted that Adidas will continue to sell Yeezy designs without using the Yeezy branding.
“The company expects to re-brand certain product (we think likely under Originals business) to help limit the sales/profit impacts on a go-forward basis beginning in 2023,” said Komp in a Tuesday note.