Side Note

Nike’s copyright-protection team is basically the cops

The sneaker giant recently worked directly with the NYPD and ICE to bust a bootleg Air Jordan ring.

Nike is a company that makes $36.4 billion in revenue. That is a large, large, large amount of money, and it’s the type of money that you don’t typically make unless you do everything you legally can to protect your bottom line.

Sometimes, if you are Nike, that means jealously guarding your intellectual property to the point of becoming a near-parody of cold, calculating corporations. The Oregon company’s copyright-protection unit, Willamette Week once wrote, “is like a scale-model justice system focused on the interests of one client.” While Willamette Week’s coverage focused on the company’s overseas efforts to protect its intellectual property, earlier this week, the Nike Cops™ popped up in a criminal complaint released by the Southern District of New York discussing the arrest of a ring of Nike bootleggers who shipped in generic Air Jordan sneakers from China and then slapped Nike branding on to flip the shoes for a profit. Quoting a detective with the NYPD’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force, the complaint states that a “private investigative firm [...] “associated with Nike” which “helps to identify and investigate unauthorized use of Nike’s intellecual property” tipped off ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations team about the ring in June of last year (a press release from ICE itself makes no mention of Nike’s involvement in the investigation). The complaint continues:

The Investigative Firm learned of containers being shipped to the United States for the benefit of the Counterfitting Company and believed that the containers might contain counterfeit Nike products. [...] The Investigative Firm surveilled the Counterfeit Sneaker Ring on numerous occasions beginning on or about June 12, 2017 and lasting through the period where the NYPD and HSI investigation began. [Quote has been lightly edited for clarity.]

In other words, the Nike Cops™ told ICE that someone was bootlegging their shit, and then did the ICE’s job for them before handing the investigation off to them. This seems... alarming? Anyways, happy Saturday!