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What is StockX and why is Nike suing them?

Nike claims that StockX is failing to authenticate the shoes listed on the site and selling counterfeits.
Jeff Kowalsky
AFP via Getty Images
Nike claims that StockX is failing to authenticate the shoes listed on the site and selling counterfeits.

Nike has ramped up its battle with the online marketplace StockX, saying that it purchased four pairs of counterfeit shoes on the site, despite StockX's guarantees of authenticity.

The famous footwear manufacturer was already in a lawsuit from February with StockX over what Nike saw as trademark infringement in the non-fungible tokens StockX was selling, and has amended the suit to include the latest accusations.

Nike said in a federal court filing with the Southern District of New York on Tuesday that the shoes it had purchased and determined to be fake "had affixed to them StockX's 'Verified Authentic' hangtag, and all came with a paper receipt from StockX in the shoe box stating that the condition of the shoes is '100% Authentic.'"

Nike said that StockX is diluting its trademarks while using them to heavily market NFTs, draw in consumers who know the brand and then benefit financially.

"StockX's use of Nike's marks is, upon information and belief, intentionally deceiving consumers into believing that Nike sponsors or approves of the Vault NFTs," Nike said, adding that it is not a collaboration between the two companies and Nike did not authorize the NFTs being sold.

As an online marketplace, StockX allows customers to shop for streetwear, handbags, and more, but it is most notable for sneakers, which it heavily markets. For many sneakerheads it's a destination and a chance to find pairs that sold out before they could buy them from the manufacturer and original retailers.

Customers are also promised that what they buy will be real, verified goods, with "Buy/Sell Authentic Guaranteed" being the StockX tagline.

As the tension between the companies grows, some sneaker collectors such as Eren Nunerley of Houston, who said he began using StockX nearly five years ago, are not surprised that it's happening. Nunerley said the rapid growth in the market for sneakers has led to questions about the ability of StockX to enforce quality control.

"There's already been a couple of occurrences where we have all collected something that was quite questionable," Nunerley said. "And the only people that I guess that can kind of check StockX would be the manufacturers — Nike themselves."

StockX has disputed Nike's claims and said it takes "customer protection extremely seriously."

"We've invested millions to fight the proliferation of counterfeit products that virtually every global marketplace faces today," StockX said in a statement sent to NPR. "Nike's latest filing is not only baseless but also is curious given that their own brand protection team has communicated confidence in our authentication program, and that hundreds of Nike employees – including current senior executives – use StockX to buy and sell products."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.