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Nike Sues Black Sneaker Brands Kool Kiy and Omi for Trademark Infringement

Sportswear giant Nike is suing two urban shoe designers and their Chinese-based footwear manufacturer, claiming they’ve been ripping off the designs of iconic swoosh-logo shoes.

Nike is suing shoe brands Kool Kiy and Omi, who are named as co-defendants alongside China-based footwear manufacturer Xiamen Wandering Planet Import and Export Co., Ltd., better known as Wandering Planet.

Nickwon Arvinger (Left), popularly known as Kool Kiy (Photo: Instgram)/Bill Omar Carrasquillo (Photo: Instagram)

According to the lawsuit, which Complex obtained from Omi, Nike claims co-defendants Nickwon Arvinger and David Weeks of By Kiy LLC and Bill Omar Carrasquillo (aka Omi in a Hellcat) of Reloaded Merch LLC have been “promoting, copying, and selling” Nike’s designs, namely the Air Jordan 1 and Dunk, as their own.

Nike points out the similarities between its own Swoosh-clad product and Kiy and Omi’s versions, which both use a lightning-bolt motif.

Kiy LLC is a retail website owned by Nickwon Arvinger and David Weeks. YouTube star Bill Omar Carrasquillo owns Reloaded, which sells sneakers, T-shirts and other items.

OMI Zero 2.0 “Steve Nash” (Photo: Reloaded Universe website)/ Air Jordan 1 Mid (Photo: Nike website)/KIY (Photo: Instagram)

Swoosh verse Lightning Bolt

Shoes by Kool Kiy and Omi feature a lightning bolt instead of a Swoosh. The shoes by both brands are popular because of their resemblance to Nike’s Air Jordan 1 and Dunk brands.

Nike says it has been warning the brands they were infringing on its intellectual properties for years.

Even though Kool Kiy and Omi share the same manufacturer, Xiamen Wandering Planet Import and Export Co., Ltd., dba Wandering Planet, the companies have a bitter rivalry, with Omi’s creator Carrasquillo saying Kool Kiy’s management copyright strikes his company social media posts.

“By supplying Kiy and Omi with knockoff sneakers using Nike’s registered Air Jordan 1 and Dunk trade dress, Wandering Planet knowingly participated in a scheme to intentionally create confusion in the marketplace and capitalize on it,” the lawsuit reads.

Lawyers on behalf of Nike issued a warning to Kool Kiy on August 6, 2021, and even tried to resolve the alleged infringement. Omi, which has been in business for years, had received a warning 20 years ago of its impending copy infringement lawsuit on October 5, 2002, Complex reported.

Nike’s lawsuit indicated that both Black creatives ignored the caution and continued to profit from designs that look very similar to Jordan 1’s and Dunk. 

The Response

Kool Kiy addressed the lawsuit on Instagram.

“Woke up this morning to a lawsuit from the mega giant corporation that I supported my whole life,” wrote Kool Kiy, the CEO and head designer of Kiy Studios, in a post shared on Instagram. “The fact that they suing a young Black man who started out exactly how they did is kinda crazy to me. Ironic how they tell us to ‘Just Do It.’ Kiy ready tho.”

Although Omi’s Instagram has been silent on the issue, Carrasquillo said his Jordan 1-lookalikes was a wholly reimagined concept that is different from Nike’s design, unlike those of Kool Kiy.

“Mine — the shoes — is all redesigned. My shoe is totally different,” Carrasquillo told Say Cheese when asked about Nike trademarking it Swoosh shoes because of bootleggers. “I don’t have a Jordan 1. It looks like one, but it’s not one.”

Carrasquillo Controversy

Carrasquillo has been in trouble before. In February, the New Jersey-based Carrasquillo, known online as “Omi in a Hellcat,” pleaded guilty in what federal prosecutors called one of the largest illegal TV pirating rings they’ve uncovered. Carrasquillo, 34, was named in September 2021 in a 62-count federal indictment, that included conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, tax evasion and fraud. 

Prosecutors claimed that from 2016 to 2019, Carrasquillo and two partners “created an illegal multi-million dollar TV streaming empire. It claims his company stole and retransmitted cable signals from companies like Comcast and Verizon FIOS,” Fox 29 reported. Carrasquillo and company charged subscribers a $15 a month fee for access to premium cable channels, on-demand movies, and pay-per-view events, according to the indictment.

Feds say the fraud scheme netted Carrasquillo and his associates $30 million. His illegal streaming operated under various names – Reboot, Gears TV, Reloaded, and Gears Reloaded, The New York Times reported.

The report stated the FBI seized more than 30 of Carrasquillo’s luxury cars, including Hellcats and Lamborghinis, and millions of dollars from his bank account.

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