Yums, the shoe brand that took Nike to Supreme Court, is back.
Eight years after the nation’s highest court handed down its 9-0 ruling, the streetwear brand finally returned earlier this month, relaunching its collection of ‘signature’ Sweet Series sneakers.
The line includes four flavor-inspired sneaker styles featuring original artwork from founder Tex Moton and matching headwear. The shoes feature a rubber sole, see-through sole art inlay, and an additional pair of contrasting color laces. Each of the four styles is part of a limited edition, YUMS said, “with more recipes coming from the oven soon.”
The Dallas founder and street artist launched Yums – short for You Understanding My Style – in 2007. The young brand’s snack-inspired sneakers quickly found an audience large enough to put them on Nike’s radar. The shoe giant, however, didn’t care about the colorful illustrations of the shoes, but the silhouette they appeared on. The design, he alleged in a 2009 lawsuit against parent company Yums, Already LLC, violated the trademark it held for its popular Air Force 1 sneaker.
In response, Deja filed for revocation of his legal rival’s trademark on the grounds that it made it difficult for the shoe newbie to continue selling his shoes. Apparently concerned about the danger of this counterclaim, Nike dropped its lawsuit and promised not to make any claims or claims against Already existing or future shoes that represented a “colorable imitation” of its then current products.
In light of this promise, Nike has decided to dismiss Already’s counterclaim as moot. The owner of Yums, however, resisted and continued to seek the cancellation of the Air Force 1 mark. He offered affidavits from potential investors saying that they would not consider investing as long as the trademark would not be invalidated. An executive claimed that Nike intimidated retailers by refusing to wear Deja’s shoes.
The court, however, sided with Nike and dismissed the lawsuit. Already then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which upheld the decision. The company appealed again, and in June 2012 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The following January, he rendered his unanimous decision: the matter was, indeed, moot.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, in which he agreed with the appeals court’s contention that Nike’s promise not to sue made it “hard to imagine a scenario that could potentially infringe [Nike’s trademark] and yet not to fall under the covenant.
“If such a shoe exists, the parties haven’t named it, there’s no evidence Already ever dreamed of it, and we can’t design it,” Roberts wrote.
“It sits, as far as we can tell, on a shelf between Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Perseus’ winged sandals,” Roberts added.
Despite this apparent rebuke, Yums now views the decision as a victory. The relaunch of the Sweet Series sneakers, she says, was “made possible by the Supreme Court ruling … and Nike’s first-ever pledge not to sue, which Nike Inc. issued to Yums, and the Supreme Court applied.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we couldn’t be more excited,” Moton said in a statement. “At a pivotal moment in society where nostalgia brings a sense of relief, Yums is a true testament to what is possible for small businesses and creators. Our tasty creations are designed to inspire all who wear them and are the secret ingredients in the streetwear industry’s recipe for success.
Nike’s legal battle with Already and Yums appears to have left the shoe giant reluctant to pursue similar litigation. The Time and Tru White platform sneakers, available at Walmart for just $ 15, also look like Nike’s Air Force One. The similarities inspired TikTok users to follow last fall’s trend of painting real Air Force 1 sneakers using the much more affordable Time and Tru shoe.
The #walmartshoes tag has received over 33 million views. The videos frequently compared the all-white sneakers to Nike’s Air Force 1s, including a video describing them as “Walmart AF1s.” While fashion has generally seen attendees creating custom designs, some have embraced the popular colorways of the hit figure. In one particularly well-executed case, one user remade the Air Force 1 Valentine’s Day Love Letter colorway, going so far as to print and attach Nike swooshes and logos.