What if your sneaker brand gets a cease and desist?

When Warren Lotas got hit with a cease and desist followed by a lawsuit for similar designs resonating too close of the Pigeon Dunk and other sneakers, Nike claimed the creations “are not legitimate customizations, they are illegal fakes.” However, with DIY and custom sneaker design becoming popular artistry in the sneaker world, sneaker customizers such as The Shoe Surgeon, Kickstradamus, and DeMarco Custom Sneakers have built businesses around their creations. However, a fine line crosses between customization and infringement, as with cases like Warren Lotas, Lil Nas X and MSFCHFS, and Ari Menthol 10’s. 

Globalization and technology welcome the inevitable frontier that allows any shoe model to become copied. Sites like Alibaba have made it easy to access blanks or infringe highly inspired modified models of your favorite sneakers. Some have used these models to create their own sneakers through customization. They also have created their own lines, or falsely claim deals and collaborations with sneaker companies. 

The thin line between customs and counterfeits has accounted for some of the most interesting copy infringement cases. For example, the viral marketing incentives around Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes” with creative collective MSCHF. These infamous sneakers garnered mass media attention and a ball of Twitter trending topics. Big sneaker brands employ counsel to protect their marks, copyrights, and other intellectual properties. However, what companies and individuals can take to safeguard their intellectual property and designs is a cease and desist.

What is a cease and desist letter?

By definition, a cease and desist letter is a common method used to resolve a dispute between two or more parties. However, it is not legally binding and isn’t filed in court. 

Instead, this letter will be sent to the individual or business to ask them to stop an activity infringing on their rights. A cease and desist letter is also commonly referred to as a “stop harassment letter” or a “demand letter.” This letter is usually sent before an injunction or lawsuit as a warning. To avoid going to court and accumulating litigation costs, cease and desist letters are one of the cheapest and quickest ways to resolve a matter. 

A cease and desist letter also serves as evidence that they’ve given notice to the other party for their alleged infringement. If the other party chooses to continue their behavior after receiving the notice, a stronger legal claim can be made against them. 

What is a cease and desist order?

While a letter comes off as a warning, a cease and desist order is legally binding to the court. Known as an “injunction” or “restraining order,” the order is official and issued by a government agency or a court. A cease and desist order communicates to a person or company to stop engaging in illegal activities, or they will face penalties such as fines or jail time.

A cease and desist letter and order are negotiation tactics giving a warning sign before further legal action occurs. 

Different types of cease and desist and why you’re getting one

  • Infringement of intellectual property rights. Intellectual property such as copyright, patent, or trademarks gives you certain rights. Someone is breaching your rights If another individual or business uses your protected work without your consent. This is the common use of cease and desist. Sending a cease and desist letter in these situations is often a quick way to get the other party to discontinue this behavior.
  • Debt collection services. A cease and desist letter may be an effective way to get debt collection agencies or attorneys to stop harrasing you through continuous calls. While you can force them to stop contacting you through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is important to keep in mind that the letter does not eliminate your debt.
  • Slander and libel issues. If a person is spreading falsehoods about you that are untrue, your business or your individual reputation can suffer irreparable harm. These cases are far more common in the digital sphere. Slander and libel are forms of defamation, and sending a cease and desist letter could be your first step in stopping this behavior.
  • Harassment. There are various ways that other parties could harass you. While sending a cease and desist letter to a harasser could be a way to stop their behavior, it is important to understand that a cease and desist letter could cause a harasser to react adversely. There are various situations where it may be better to go directly to law enforcement or the courts for a restraining order.

How to handle if you get a cease and desist:

I would say 90% of these cease and desist letters are settled before they make it to court. And they’re either resolved amicably or forcefully outside of the courts. – Kenneth Anand

  • Relax. Don’t panic. A reminder that cease and desist letters and orders are warnings. 
  • Consult with a lawyer. Understand the complete letter or order and what’s at stake. Is there an understanding of what you’re infringing and your rights? Understand your choices? Do you understand the action if not complying?
  • Give a response. Acknowledge that you have received the letter. Orders are certified mail in which there is legal signature confirmation. Understand your choices and respond with what action you’ll be taking.
  • Find a way to settle. So there’s weight to the cease and desist? Acknowledge through settling and avoid taking it to court. Going to court is more expensive in the long run.
  • Do not ignore. Sneaker Law, co-author Jared Goldstein, immediate advice is to not ignore cease and desist letters and orders.

You want to respond to it, because if you ignore it — it can get worst. Ignoring it is not the way to go. – Jared Goldstein

In the newest module in Sneaker Essentials, Sneaker Law co-authors Kenneth Anand and Jared Goldstein break down intellectual property and considerations of sneaker deals. Explore Sneaker Essentials, a course powered by Yellowbrick alongside FIT and Complex by visiting yellowbrick.co/sneakers.

Disclaimer: This blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The contents of post contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. 

MADE: How Kenneth Anand made a career in sneaker law

PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THERE’S SUCH THING AS HAVING IT “MADE.” THIS SERIES TAKES US TO THE GRIND, PERSISTENCE, AND DEDICATION IT TAKES TO PREPARE FOR THE RIGHT CAREER OPPORTUNITIES. 

Not all career pathways are the same. What we see as overnight success on social media are archived years of preparation before meeting that opportunity. There are no shortcuts to studying, obtaining a law degree, or passing the bar. Each year of experience counts in building a career in law. Kenneth Anand took a traditional pathway in practicing law and dedicated years to a law firm. Then, he used his experience to understand sneakers and fashion. This led to creating a law firm representing creatives and designers who drive those industries.

Fifteen years were under Kenneth’s belt before being aligned with an opportunity to be the General Counsel for Yeezy, Kanye West’s clothing and sneaker line. He created his own lane, year by year, which led him to a dream opportunity. Today, he is a lawyer, author, consultant, and business owner of streetwear brands like JustDon and 424 Fairfax. To celebrate the launch of the newest module in Sneaker Essentials featuring contributors Kenneth Anand and Jared Goldstein, Kenneth speaks with Yellowbrick about the different milestones he experienced in his career and how they led to creating Sneaker Law.

Sneaker culture is all about being your true self. And so we wanted to create something that embodied what that was about in education.

As a novice…

Having a strong interest in sneakers as a kid, it was a wrap when Kenneth discovered Jordans. Turned sneakerhead at only seven years old, he dreamt about wearing coveted sneakers and building his collection. It wasn’t until several years later when his parents gifted him his first pair of Jordans. He was hooked from then on. Over the years, Kenneth was a sneaker collector and always looked towards a career in sneaker law. He took the necessary steps and a traditional pathway, graduating from Brooklyn Law school and practicing employment law.  

As an expert…

Day-by-day, Kenneth put on a suit and stepped into the courtroom arguing cases in state and federal courts. After years of pursuing employment law, Kenneth started his law firm and developed clients in the creative space. He began to represent sneaker designers and brands, offering cost-effective representation across the employment, IP and entertainment fields. Then, Kenneth realized how much more time he wanted to devote to supporting streetwear, fashion, and sneaker brands through law. 

Kenneth Anand, co-creator of Sneaker Law
Kenneth Anand is a Sneaker Essentials contributor for Module 7, Sneaker Law. Source: Miami School of Law

The opportunity…

In 2017, Kanye West’s sneaker and fashion line, Yeezy, offered Kenneth a General Counsel role. And for two and a half years, he dedicated himself as their head lawyer. This role turned into Head of Business Development, in which he spearheaded developing new and existing lines of business. When speaking about his time at Yeezy, Kenneth recalls, “as somebody that grew up loving sneakers and hip hop and fashion, this was the perfect storm job for me. It was probably the most hyped I’ve ever been in my career.” While it took 15 years for Kenneth to work hard, arguing court cases routinely, it prepared him for Yeezy. 

As somebody that grew up loving sneakers and hip hop and fashion, this was the perfect storm job for me. It was probably the most hyped I’ve ever been in my career.

As notorious as the opportunity and time at Yeezy, Kenneth didn’t stop there. He returned to school to get his Executive MBA in Business. This helped him expand his knowledge, and support his next step in his career before Sneaker Law. After leaving Yeezy, Kenneth co-founded 3 8 0 Group, a fashion licensing company specializing in manufacturing and distributing premium apparel, footwear, and accessories. 3 8 0 group currently owns the licenses to leading streetwear brands such as JustDon, 424 Fairfax, MSFTSrep, and Bel-Air Athletics. Kenneth is also an advisor and consultant to many sneaker companies answering questions around the sneaker business and law.

The creation of Sneaker Law…

When Kenneth met Jared Goldstein, a legal intern for Complex who contributed articles around sneaker law, they began to think of ways to collaborate. As a result, they started the four-year-long process of writing Sneaker Law. A textbook that explains the facets of the sneaker business, Sneaker Law is the first book of its kind. It was important for Kenneth to create something that embodied the culture. Sneaker Law is a book for people to learn and understand the sneaker business. “I felt like [Jared and me] didn’t fit in [law school]. Sneaker culture is all about being your true self. And so we wanted to create something that embodied what that was about in education.”

Sneaker Law inspires courses around the subject matter in colleges and universities. University of Miami Law School, Georgia State, Parsons, and Rutgers use Sneaker Law as an official reading requirement. With FIT and Complex, Yellowbrick has added a new module into our Sneaker Essentials course, Sneaker Law. This module covers the sneaker business, intellectual property, and considerations when making a sneaker deal. Check out our Sneaker Essentials course to get a comprehensive overview of the sneaker industry and sneaker business.

Want to explore becoming a sneaker lawyer or other careers within the sneaker industry and how to get started? Explore our Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide.

MADE: How Jared Goldstein made a career in sneaker law

PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THERE’S SUCH THING AS HAVING IT “MADE.” THIS SERIES TAKES US TO THE GRIND, PERSISTENCE, AND DEDICATION IT TAKES TO PREPARE FOR DREAM OPPORTUNITIES. 

When thinking about attending law school, you usually wouldn’t correlate sneakers with it. But Jared Goldstein always had a vision for meshing his passion and love for sneakers. He paired this alongside his interest and intellectual curiosity for the law. Jared found a way to make his dream come true with relentless passion and application. Once a sneakerhead and reseller, Jared is now a lawyer and co-author of Sneaker Law — the first textbook made to teach the sneaker business. 

Before Sneaker Law, Jared put in years towards school. He deepened his knowledge of sneakers and the law. Then, he applied himself with a viable internship at Complex before landing the right opportunity. To celebrate the launch of the newest module in Sneaker Essentials featuring contributors Jared Goldstein and Kenneth Anand, Jared speaks with Yellowbrick about the different milestones he experienced in his career and how they led to creating Sneaker Law.

To that date, nobody has ever written about the lack of legal protection for sneaker designs. So, with extreme passion, Jared wrote over 40 pages of explicit legal content around sneaker designs.

JARED GOLDSTEIN

As a novice…

Jared instantly saw himself as a sneakerhead when he heard Nelly’s 2002 hit, Air Force Ones. To explore his newfound obsession, Jared read Complex’s now-defunct print magazine, specifically articles by Joe La Puma.

He knew at eight years old that he wanted to fuse his passion for sneakers and the law but didn’t exactly know the pathway to do so. The usual track was to work in-house for a sneaker company or a law firm that represented a sneaker brand — both limited with opportunities taking years and even sometimes a lifetime to achieve. Millennials and Gen Z expect rapid progression in their careers. 

According to research by PWC, millennials hold particular characteristics such as “ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards. . . as well as their willingness to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met.” In addition, like with Gen Z today, creative achievers want to feel their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are recognized — and fast. 

During law school, Jared researched and discovered law reviews, scholarly journals, or periodicals that focus on various legal issues. One of the requirements to become a law review member is to make a note (or a thesis) that is unique and has never been written before. After submitting your note, it’s judged before a panel to determine if it will be published in the journal. 

Jared saw this as an opportunity for his career in sneaker law. To that date, nobody has ever written about the lack of legal protection for sneaker designs. So, with extreme passion, Jared wrote over 40 pages of explicit legal content around sneaker designs. Proud of his work, Jared submitted his note. However, the panel rejected it. Upset, he went back to the drawing board to figure out his next steps.

As an expert…

Just a short time after his rejection with the law review, Jared landed an internship at Complex as a legal intern. After years of reading Joe La Puma’s articles and following his career, he couldn’t believe that he was in the same office as him. Landing this dream internship was a pivotal moment. With a stroke of inspiration, he came up with an idea. He would use the opportunity at Complex as an avenue to get his law review note out to the world. Jared pinpointed the missing gap in the sneaker industry. He knew his 40-pages of legal content was valuable information for the sneaker industry. 

While fulfilling his duties as a legal intern, Jared pitched his idea to Complex Sneakers Editor, Matthew Welty. Matthew loved the idea and proposed a new challenge for Jared — turning 30,000 words of legal language into 1,000 words for sneaker aficionados alike. After a couple of all-nighters, Jared completed a 1,000-word piece, “Here’s What Happens When a Brand Gets Sued for Ripping Off a Sneaker Design.” After that, he wrote a couple of more articles for Complex about legal areas around shoe design and sneakers. 

Jared Goldstein. Sneaker Essentials conributor
Jared Goldstein joins Sneaker Essentials as a contributor to Module 7, Sneaker Law.

Sneaker Law opportunity…

Sneakerheads and industry professionals consume your work when published in a massive media platform like Complex. And Kenneth Anand (previously General Counsel for Yeezy Apparel) was one of them. At the time, Kenneth was a partner for a law firm and reached out to Jared to meet him. They met at an Au Bon Pain, where they talked for hours and hours at length about sneakers. Jared couldn’t believe that he had met someone with similar interests who also practices law. He became inspired by Kenneth and wanted a career like his — to rock sneakers to work and practice law that he’s passionate about. 

They began thinking of ways to collaborate, including writing law articles around the subject matter of sneakers and the law. Instead, they found an opportunity to write a book together about the many facets of the sneaker industry. On the side of building their law careers, they worked together for four years on what would become Sneaker Law.

But the opportunity doesn’t stop there. Adopted as an official textbook for colleges for University of Miami Law School, Georgia State, Parsons, and Rutgers, Sneaker Law inspires sneaker law courses. Kenneth Anand and Jared Goldstein have also been invited to lecture at Harvard. They continue developing their retail strategy to get Sneaker Law into the hands of sneakerheads, creatives, entrepreneurs, and law professionals. With FIT and Complex, Yellowbrick has added a new module into our Sneaker Essentials course, Sneaker Law. This module covers sneaker business, company structures, intellectual property, and understanding sneaker deals. Check out our Sneaker Essentials course to get a comprehensive overview of the sneaker industry and sneaker business.

Interested in careers like corporate sneaker lawyer and how to get started? Explore our Ultimate Sneaker Career Guide.