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Nike Claims Small Sneaker Designer Is a ‘Bootlegger’ in New Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Nike’s persistent pursuit of protecting its intellectual property continues to hold strong in 2024, as the athletic giant files its latest trademark infringement lawsuit this week.

In a new complaint filed in US District Court in New Jersey on Thursday, Nike is calling Naadier Riles, the founder of Global Heartbreak, a “bootlegger” that is allegedly infringing on its Air Jordan 1 High silhouette and outsole designs.

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According to Nike’s complaint, Riles allegedly did not independently create his own sneaker. “Instead, he stole Nike’s Air Jordan 1 High design and replaced Nike’s branding with his own,” Nike wrote in the filing. “Riles does not deny that he intentionally copied Nike’s Air Jordan 1 High designs. In the last month, Riles has twice admitted that he used Nike’s federally-protected designs in order to gain brand recognition.”

In the filing, Nike said it became aware of Global Heartbreak and the alleged infringing products through a video published by ReasonTV on Dec. 12, 2023. Nike then claimed it “promptly sent Global Heartbreak a cease-and-desist letter” on Jan. 3, requesting that Global Heartbreak immediately stop distributing, marketing, promoting, using, offering for sale, and/or selling the infringing products.

Nike, Air Jordan 1 High, Global Heartbreak, Naadier Riles, lawsuit, trademark infringement
Nike is alleging that Naadier Riles and his Global Heartbreak brand is infringing on its Air Jordan 1 High sneaker design.Court Documents

At the same time, Nike said it also requested information such as the number of infringing products sold, an accounting of Global Heartbreak’s profits and revenues from its sale of the infringing products, the number of infringing products in inventory, and the identity of the manufacturer for the infringing products.

Riles then allegedly took to social media to complain about the letter, the file stated. “On Jan. 5, 2024, Riles posted the letter to his Instagram [@naadyglo], stating ‘this is what I had to do to get this recognition that I deserved,’” the complaint said. (Riles’ Instagram is private and can not be accessed at time of publication to verify the post.)

Then on Jan. 9, Nike claimed that Riles called its counsel and left a voicemail. “Riles did not identify himself, but stated that he represented Global Heartbreak and was calling in response to Nike’s cease-and-desist letter,” Nike noted in the filing. “Nike’s counsel called Riles back the same day. During the call, Nike explained the information it needed in order to reach an amicable resolution. Additionally, during Riles’ call with Nike’s counsel — and unbeknownst to Nike’s counsel — Riles illegally recorded the conversation and later posted the illegal recording to his Instagram and Twitter accounts.”

Nevertheless, Nike said it continued its attempt to resolve this dispute by giving Riles additional time to provide the information Nike requested in its cease-and-desist letter. According to the filing, Riles provided this information, including the name and contact information for his manufacturer of illegal knockoffs of Nike’s Air Jordan 1 design (Andu Shoe Sue from Alibaba.com), the amount of knockoffs sold, and the amount of knockoffs remaining in inventory on Jan. 20.

Finally, on Jan. 24, Nike added that it “provided Riles with an opportunity to walk away from this dispute.” Specifically, Nike said in the filing that it asked Riles to provide an assurance that he would stop using Nike’s iconic designs and inform his followers that he would be discontinuing the infringing products.

“The same day, rather than respond to Nike’s attempt to resolve the dispute amicably, Riles again took to social media and publicly threatened Nike with the release of additional infringing sneakers in a continued attempt to capitalize off of his infringement to build additional brand recognition,” the complaint stated.

In the end, Nike is seeking an award of three times the amount of compensatory damages and increased profits that Riles may have gained from selling his alleged infringing sneakers.

FN has reached out to Nike and Riles for comment.

Nike is not one to shy away from protecting its intellectual property. This case has similar aspects to the ongoing legal battle Nike is waging with By Kiy LLC and Nickwon Arvinger. In December 2022, Nike brought a trademark infringement case against the shoemaker for knocking off its Air Jordan 1 and Dunk sneaker styles.

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