Rapper Kayne West filed a lawsuit against Walmart on June 24, alleging that the retailer is knocking off one of his latest shoe designs, Yeezy Foam Runners. According to documents obtained by TMZ, West’s team filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits deceptive business practices. The lawsuit also claims that Walmart could cost West “hundreds of millions of dollars” in sales as the cheaper versions are easily confused with the genuine Foam Runners.
“Consumers are purchasing the imitation Yeezy Foam Runner footwear from Walmart on the mistaken belief that the shoes are associated with West and the Yeezy brand,” the filing states. “Walmart is flagrantly trading off of [Kanye] and Yeezy brand’s popularity by offering for sale an imitation version of the Yeezy Foam Runner."
According to Forbes, the sneakers cited in the lawsuit can only be found on Walmart’s website, although most have been taken down since the news of West’s lawsuit broke. The Yeezy Foam Runners were introduced in June 2020 and the $75 shoes sold out immediately after their release. Their resale value ranges from $250 to $800. The knockoff pair, by contrast were listed for $25 to $35 on Walmart’s website.
“The product referenced in the complaint is not sold by Walmart, but rather by third-party marketplace sellers,” a Walmart spokesperson told TMZ about the faux Runners “We take allegations like this seriously and are reviewing the claim. We will respond in court as appropriate after we have been served with the complaint.”
Total Retail's Take: This lawsuit isn't the first time Kanye West has been embroiled in legal issues with Walmart. In April, Walmart claimed that West’s idea for the new Yeezy logo looked too similar to the retailer's “rays from a sun” logo, which it has been using since 2007. Walmart’s sun logo features six solid lines emanating from a circle, while the Yeezy logo is comprised of eight dotted lines emanating from a circle. As a result, Walmart filed a claim with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office alleging that its customers might get confused. As for the counterfeit product claim West has levied against Walmart, it's not unusual for brands to go after retailers' marketplaces for selling counterfeit versions of their products. Amazon.com has been dealing with this issue for quite some time, and it now seems like Walmart's third-party marketplace could become a target for counterfeiters.
Related story: Gap, Kanye West Partner for 'Yeezy' Apparel Line