On July 21, 2022, Justin Pierce was quoted in Law360 on the top copyright and trademark cases to watch in the second half of 2022, including Nike v. StockX LLC. According to the article, Nike accused sneaker resale marketplace StockX of selling nonfungible tokens that display Nike's sneaker designs without the retail giant's permission.
Nike argued that StockX's NFT collection, known as The Vault, is composed solely of unauthorized images of Nike's shoes, allegedly banking on the shoe giant's popularity to boost sales. StockX said it was not infringing because its Vault collection is like a "claim ticket" to actual sneakers that are authenticated and stored in its facilities — prompting Nike to take aim at StockX's authentication process, alleging it has been able to purchase counterfeit Nike shoes "despite StockX's numerous guarantees of authenticity."
StockX has since disputed Nike's characterization of its authentication program, saying it has invested millions into fighting counterfeits and has hired over 300 authenticators. StockX also said key executives for the retailer had also praised the platform's efforts in the past.
The case is significant in part because of StockX's claim that it is not selling its NFTs as digital art, but instead using them as a means of selling the actual product pictured in the NFT, according to Pierce.
"We envision this nuance will lead to a case that will, if it proceeds, potentially provide a more in-depth analysis of the unique legal challenges of this new metaverse medium," Pierce said, adding that the case may also "ultimately help to define the lines of allowable use cases for NFTs going forward."
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