Nike launches massive lawsuit against online counterfeiters

Nike has filed legal action against 589 websites and 676 social media accounts, complaining they are selling counterfeit versions of Nike and Converse footwear.

The lawsuit (1:2021cv00248) – filed in the US district court for the southern district of New York last week – is seeking an injunction on the sale of the offending items, as well as damages, although the identity of some of the defendants is unknown. They are located mainly in China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and other foreign jurisdictions, it says.

The websites are grouped into 42 counterfeiting networks, according to the complaint, and have been actively “advertising, offering to sell, and/or selling counterfeit Nike or Converse products to US consumers,” according to the complaint.

Some of the websites used domain names that were identical to or substantially similar to trademarks owned by Nike and Converse, its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Top of the list of defendants is a network of 67 websites, including, as well as and associated social media accounts on Instagram, Wechat and Whatsapp.

A test purchase of a pair of Nike SB Dunk Low Russet Cedar sneakers – which can cost hundreds of dollars in the second hand market – verified that the product shipped was counterfeit.

The suit is seeking an immediate injunction on the defendants’ activities and the use of Nike and Converse trademarks, the destruction of any materials used in making the knockoffs and an order that they retain all records about transactions relating to the counterfeit goods.

It also wants to force the domain name registrars for the sites to disable them and make them untransferable.

It also asks for statutory damages of $100,000 per infringing domain name and punitive damages on account of the defendants’ “gross, wanton, wilful, and malicious conduct.”

Often any damages awarded in these cases are symbolic and hard to recoup given many of the defendants are anonymous, although Nike has tried to tackle this issue in the past.

Last year, it launched legal proceedings against international banks it said operated US accounts on behalf of counterfeiters, seeking $150m in damages for violating a court-ordered asset freeze of around $69m and transferring money made from the counterfeit sales so it was out of US legal jurisdiction.

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