Kanye West and Yeezy LLC sue Walmart over copies of foam runners on its marketplace site

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Kanye West has stepped up his clash with Walmart, which began with a pending brand battle between his brand and Walmart over their respective logos, bringing new unfair competition action against the retail giant for selling. copied versions of Yeezy’s Foam Runner shoes. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in a California state court Thursday, West and Yeezy LLC allege that Walmart and a handful of anonymous third-party Walmart sellers (the “defendants”) “are blatantly trading [Kanye] and the popularity of the Yeezy brand by offering an imitation version of the Yeezy Foam Runner for sale, and confusing consumers in the process.

In the newly filed complaint, West and Yeezy LLC (the “Complainants”) claim that by selling shoes that “mimic … the original and distinctive Yeezy Foam Runner” and is tantamount to an “unauthorized exact copy of the Yeezy [shoe] in all respects, including the hoof silhouette, slip-on foam body, and characteristic cutouts of varying sizes on the sides and top of the shoe, “Walmart and the other defendants cause significant harm to the” multi-billionaire “Yeezy brand . In addition to copying the overall look of the product, West and Yeezy claim that the replicas offered by third-party sellers on the Walmart site specifically feature the same “three teardrop cutouts of decreasing size from back to front. , from the heel to the middle of the shoe, with three stacked curved lines composed of wide and short ovals on the smaller teardrop-shaped cutout along the side of the shoe, with two eye-shaped cutouts on the side of the shoe. the toe, a diamond-shaped pattern of wavy lines with oval cutouts on the top of the shoe and identically textured bottoms’ like the Yeezy shoe.

Aside from the simple similarity between the two models, West and Yeezy claim that by means of the shoes offered by Walmart, the defendants are intentionally – and successfully – negotiating the appeal and demand of the Yeezy shoes, which is demonstrated by comments. on the Walmart website, which “make [it] clear that many consumers bought the imitation shoe purely because of its association with West and the YEEZY brand. For example, a number of comments on product listings since removed specifically mention “Yeezy” and “Kanye vibez,” while others refer to the shoes as “budget” and “more affordable” versions of the real thing.

At the same time, West and Yeezy are posting comments on social media, which refer to “Walmart Yeezy’s” and draw attention to the availability of “Foam Runners at Walmart.” These comments demonstrate that consumers are, in fact, confused as to the nature and provenance of imitations of shoes, the defendants say, and therefore, that they associate the lookalikes with West and Yeezy even though they are not. ‘have not licensed and are not affiliated with the manufacture and sale of the shoes.

With such presumed confusion in mind, and in light of the availability and cost of similar shoes (i.e., $ 25 to $ 30), Kanye and Yeezy claim that “consumers would likely have bought “Yeezy Foam Runners – which originally sold for $ 80 -” wasn’t that for the cheaper imitation shoe. ” (This might be a far-fetched argument given that West’s shoe offerings are notoriously selling out in record time and, as a result, tend to only become available to most consumers through the aftermarket with labels. prices that regularly reach into the hundreds of dollars.) Helping plausibility, West and Yeezy claim that “unfair competition from Walmart has caused [them] to lose market share that they would otherwise have had. They also assert that “the unfair and unlawful conduct of the defendants directly[…][ed] the goodwill of the YEEZY brand ”, stemming in part from“ the association with the imitation shoe in view of its inferior quality ”, and thus,“ diminished[ed] the value of West and Yeezy’s present or future intellectual property interests.

In view of the foregoing and in view of the economic and brand specific damage that Walmart has allegedly caused to West and Yeezy due to the “decline in sales of the Yeezy Foam Runner, as well as the damage to [their] Reputation and Ownership in the Form of the YEEZY Trademark “, Yeezy and West filed an unfair competition complaint under the California Business & Profession Code, which prohibits” any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent, or false, deceptive act or practice of trade, or false advertising. According to the complaint, Walmart and the anonymous defendants broke state law by selling “an imitation version of the popular and distinctive Yeezy Foam Runner, despite consumer comments that were or should have been sufficient to alert Walmart of the presence of imitations. goods on its website.

Further, “Walmart compromised the popularity and goodwill of West and the YEEZY brand to market, sell and profit from the sale of the imitation shoe,” amounting to “immoral, unethical behavior. ethical, oppressive and / or unscrupulous as it was designed to confuse consumers and profit from the popularity and reputation of the YEEZY brand and Kanye West.

Beyond that, West and Yeezy claim that “by exchanging [their] popularity and goodwill to increase sales of the imitation shoe, without authorization or compensation to the plaintiffs, “Walmart and the other defendants” have unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the plaintiffs “, and thus, they submitted a claim for quantum meruit in order to recover the profits which would have been amassed by the defendants in an unfair manner. In addition to pecuniary damages, including “restitution or restitution of defendants’ profits,” Yeezy and West seek an injunction to formally prohibit the defendants from engaging in such conduct in the future.

In a statement in response to the filing announcement Thursday, a Walmart representative said, “We take allegations like this seriously and are reviewing the claim. We will respond to court where appropriate after receiving notification of the complaint. The representative further asserted that “the product referenced in the complaint is not sold by Walmart, but rather by third-party market sellers.”

The case is Kanye West and Yeezy LLC v. Walmart Inc., et al., 21STCV23514 (Cal.Sup.)


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