The things you see on Twitter at two in the morning. Just watch both videos first and prepare to well, prepare to feel something…
— Hi Basketball Shoes (@Hi_basketball) April 17, 2016
What starts out as rather harmless hype videos for a Chinese brand called Onemix devolves into shock and horror for sneakerheads and anybody with knowledge of copyright laws. In the first video you see a struggling designer have a moment of epiphany and come up with the concept for a one-piece knitted running shoe that uses an air bubble for cushioning. The inspirational music that plays in the background will have your heart soaring as you cheer on the designer to finish his dream. Well, that until you see the shoe that he was dreaming about was a shoe that he’s seen before and was barely altered to fit his needs. And it’s not like the designer is some cobbler on the street; he has access to what appears to be modern machinery that conceivably could bring
his Nike’s vision to life.
It’s the stuff that dreams – and lawsuits – are made of, really. If a pair of Nike Air Max Flyknits with a slightly different logo weren’t staring right back at me, I might actually be impressed by the production value put behind the making of the video. My feelings about this clip were summed up rather succinctly by the top comment:
The video in the tweet takes things to the proverbial next level. After what appears to be a brief history of the brand that includes a peek inside the operation itself, we get a bunch of young people wearing Onemix shoes doing young people things like dancing to generic house music and playing streetball. Like the first video, the sequel is equal on the cheese factor but what’s amazing is that all of the shoes look strikingly similar – if not exact replicas – to either the Nike Air Max Flyknit, Nike LeBron 11, Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 or Nike Flyknit Lunar.
A quick Google search reveals that Onemix hawks their wares in Asian countries and parts of Europe, including Spain. And it’s not just Nike that they borrow from liberally, as classic runners from Saucony and New Balance can also be found with the Onemix logo. Now you’re probably wondering if they have gotten wind of the popularity of adidas and Kanye West. The answer is yes and they’ve got the Red October colorway to prove it.
So how is it possible that Onemix can get away with such blatant infringement on creations by other brands? This is not just a problem for Nike and adidas, but every popular brand imaginable, from Apple to McDonald’s and even Tesla. It’s a complicated mess of copyright laws – which apparently doesn’t always travel overseas – and a lack of enforcement of them that is best summed up by this line in a piece about Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand’s own struggles to shut down copycats in China:
“Most countries, including China, give trademarks to whomever files for it first… But [in] the United States, it’s whoever uses it first.”
What that means is that even if Nike or adidas were the first to make Flyknit or Yeezy shoes for the world, if a Chinese brands slyly applies a trademark for those designs before the originals do, they have managed to get one over on the big brands. And that’s only if they actually do their due diligence and beat the brands to the punch. Most of the time, they won’t even bother and just sell their copies anyway because they don’t fear the hammer coming down on them.
As somebody who grew up in an Asian country, piracy might be frowned upon, but it sure wasn’t hard to find a bootleg copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the equivalent of five bucks if necessary. And the reason they sell and why such imitators exist is because their prices are so low compared to the real thing. A $80 Kobe Bryant adidas Swingman jersey might not sound like much to those of us who live in the US, but to an impoverished community across the globe where people make a pittance compared to our wages, being able to buy even a bad imitation of the real thing for less than ten bucks is money well spent in their eyes. I guess that now applies for a pair of Flyknits.
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