LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced on Tuesday that it is taking a majority stake in Off-White, the upscale streetwear brand that DJ-slash-designer Virgil Abloh launched in 2013. In a statement, Paris-based LVMH revealed that in addition to taking a 60 percent stake in Off-White, it has entered into a new “arrangement” with Abloh to “jointly pursue new projects across luxury categories.” The new partnership will “leverage the Group’s expertise to launch new brands and partner with existing ones in a variety of sectors beyond the realm of fashion,” with initial discussions already underway, according to the French luxury goods conglomerate.

In a statement on Tuesday, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault said, “We are thrilled to expand our successful partnership with Virgil. We have already had the privilege of witnessing his exceptional creativity and vision through his work with us at Louis Vuitton.” He further stated that the group “look[s] forward to supporting Virgil and the team both in driving the growth of Off-White™️ and in working together with Virgil to bring his unique sensibility to a broader range of luxury categories.”

Meanwhile, Michael Burke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Louis Vuitton, where Abloh maintains the role of artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, stated that “by breaking down borders and proclaiming a profoundly inclusive philosophy, Virgil has extended the reach of Louis Vuitton’s luxury world.” And finally, Abloh revealed that “for nearly a decade, we have been building Off-White™️ to be a brand designed to empower our generation and challenge the status quo. LVMH brings to the table the additional firepower and scale to accelerate our momentum and evolve Off-White into a truly multi-line luxury brand.” 

LVMH noted that the transaction, which is still subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed within the next 60 days, and that Italian fashion group New Guards Group will remain an operating partner for Off-White™ through its licensing agreement with Off-White LLC.

While Off-White may be the first streetwear brand to live under the LVMH ownership umbrella, the brand is not all that different from some of the group’s biggest names – including LVMH’s most valuable property, the 167-year-old Louis Vuitton – primarily because of how it operates: it generates a significant amount of revenue by monetizing its arsenal of trademarks (i.e., logos, word marks, etc.), which are prominently placed on its wares and easily recognizable to its core group of consumers, who are willing to pay a premium for high-margin items as a function of the appearance of those marks. (Like Louis Vuitton, Off-White also engages in consistent and aggressive enforcement of its rights in those marks, both by way of trademark opposition proceedings (Off-White is currently trying to prevent the registration of Dark Whyte, Off-Bounds, and Off-Logic, among other marks, for use on apparel) and infringement-centric litigation).

Counsel for Abloh’s brand made mention of this in a recent round of the back-and-forth that the brand has had with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in furtherance of its quest to secure registrations for an array of its interesting marks, from  the red zip tie that is commonly attached to the brand’s footwear and handbag offerings, and the “For Walking” word mark – quotation marks, included – which has appeared on some of the brand’s shoes, including a pair of boots that it sent down the runway in Paris several years ago.

Speaking to the potentially seamless transition of the Off-White brand into the LVMH universe, albeit inadvertently, counsel for Off-White recently responded to pushback from the USPTO, arguing that the trademark body should register its red zip tie trademark by likening its use of the red zip tie to the logo-centric products of luxury goods brands, sales of which are driven, in large part, by the presence of the logos. The zip tie “is no different” than “any other trademark that appears affixed to fashion products,” which often attract consumers to the product while also identifying the source of it, the brand’s counsel asserted.

This is especially true for high-end fashion products, the brand’s counsel claims, “for which the communication to others that the product is produced by a certain source is much of the attraction of purchasing, owning, and wearing the product in the first place.”

The news of the deal comes just over a week after LVMH revealed that it would take a minority stake in former Celine creative director Phoebe Philo’s soon-to-launch eponymous label and a couple of days after Etro announced that it had entered into a binding agreement to partner with L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm in which LVMH operates with Groupe Arnault, the family holding company of Bernard Arnault, and capital market company Catterton.

Off-White is still in the midst of fighting for registrations for two of its many trademarks. At issue: the red zip tie that is commonly attached to the brand’s footwear and handbag offerings, and the “For Walking” word mark – quotation marks, included – which has appeared on some of the brand’s shoes, including a pair of boots that it sent down the runway in Paris several years ago. Counsel for the heavily-hyped fashion brand filed responses challenging the latest round of pushback from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) early this month, arguing that both the red zip tie and the “For Walking” marks do, in fact, serve to the identify products they appear on as coming from the Virgil Abloh-owned brand, and thus, should be registered with the trademark body.

First addressing the red zip tie mark, which the USPTO previously rejected on the basis that it is “merely a decorative or ornamental feature of the goods” and that “consumers are induced to buy the goods” that it is attached to precisely “because of this decorative feature,” Off-White’s attorneys claim that the “unique and unusual” zip tie creates “the commercial impression of a trademark” and “serves as a strong source identifier.” Specifically, they claim that Off-White’s “extensive use and promotion of [the zip tie] for more than five years” – and the widespread media attention and celebrity endorsements that have come with it – “has allowed consumers to directly associate [the zip tie] with [the Off-White brand] as the source of [Off-White’s] goods.” 

Beyond that, Off-White takes issue with the USPTO examiner’s claim that the zip tie does not function as a trademark because it is an unprotectable decorative feature of the Off-White’s products that drives consumers to purchase those products. Disagreeing with the examiner’s assertion that “if consumers are purchasing a product because of the presence of [Off-White’s] mark [on that product], that makes it a decorative feature,” Off-White likens the zip tie to the logo-centric products of luxury goods brands, sales of which are driven, in large part, by the presence of the logos. 

The zip tie “is no different,” the brand’s counsel claims, than “any other trademark that appears affixed to fashion products,” which often attract consumers to the product while also identifying the source of it. This is especially true for high-end fashion products “for which the communication to others that the product is produced by a certain source is much of the attraction of purchasing, owning, and wearing the product in the first place,” they assert. 

In other words, consumers very well may buy a bag or belt or pair of shoes because of the trademark(s) that appear on those goods (and in fact, as I have argued at length in the past, they probably do buy them for that very reason). That does not, however, necessarily mean that the logos or brand names or patterns, etc. do not act as indicators of source of the goods; after all, a mark can be both decorative and source-indicating at the same time. In fact, counsel for Off-White argues that when consumers are attracted to – and ultimately purchase – a product because of the trademark(s) that appear on it, this is almost certainly because of the “specific source-identifying properties of” those marks. 

The brand’s counsel also asserts that “the mere fact that a trademark can be seen on the product cannot automatically mean that it is a decorative or ornamental feature of the goods.” With that in mind, and given Off-White’s “substantially exclusive and continuous use” of the red zip tie as a trademark for at least five years, the brand contends that the USPTO should withdraw its refusal and enable the application to proceed.

“For Walking” 

In a separate response, counsel for Off-White focuses its attention on the USPTO’s preliminary refusal to register “For Walking” because the mark is “descriptive of the applied-for goods” – i.e., footwear, which is used … for walking. Again, disagreeing with the USPTO’s determination, counsel for Off-White asserts that the “For Walking” mark is “elevated beyond being descriptive due to the unique commercial impression created by [Off-White’s] distinct use of quotation marks,” which Off-White claims is different from “mere use of the word or phrase without the quotation marks.” 

Echoing an argument made in an earlier response to USPTO pushback, Off-White asserts that the inclusion of the quotation marks in the mark changes “the very essence of the phrase [For Walking] by altering the way it is pronounced, what it is perceived to mean, and how it is understood by consumers.” The quotation marks “add a layer of meaning to the phrase,” the brand’s counsel contends, claiming that “the overall effect of the quotation marks in [Off-White’s] mark is to transform the words used and create a unique, source-identifying commercial impression in the minds of consumers.”

And still yet, Off-White argues that because the mark at issue “does not immediately describe a characteristic or feature of” the products upon which it appears “with any degree of particularity,” the mark is not descriptive, and thus, should be permitted to proceed in the registration process.

The back and forth between Off-White and the USPTO is not limited to these two marks. On the contrary; Off-White has also been lobbying for the registration for an array of other marks, including the quotation flanked “Product Bag,” which the trademark body issued a notice of allowance for in December. 

The routinely-filed applications for registration – paired with the consistent anti-counterfeiting and infringement lawsuits, and the growing number of trademark oppositions being waged by Off-White – come as Abloh continues to build out (and monopolize) a vocabulary of assets to cater to his core consumer base of “hype beasts and the star-obsessed” for whom Vanity Fair’s K. Austin Collins says, “diagonal stripes and ironic quotation marks” are not terribly unlike “what interlocking L.V. monograms are to another generation.” As for whether the USPTO sees the similarity between the two, that is still yet to be determined. 

The mastermind behind a far-reaching scheme to bank on the enormous appeal of Supreme has been sentenced to jail time in connection with a criminal case that was filed against him by the famed streetwear brand. At the heart of the case: International Brand Firm Ltd. (“IBF”), a 7-year-old British holding company sitting on trademark registrations for Supreme Italia and Supreme Spain, and its owner Michele Di Pierro. Given that IBF does not have an affiliation with New York-based Supreme, the mega-famous streetwear brand that British transplant James Jebbia founded in 1994, its quest to amass trademark registrations in countries like San Marino, Italy, Indonesia, Singapore, and Spain, among others, and open stores in various cities in Europe and even China, has landed Mr. Di Pierro, 53, and his company on the opposite end of VF Corp-owned Supreme in trademark battles in an array of jurisdictions across the globe. 

The country-spanning operation that is Supreme Italia got its start simply enough. Pierro identified an opportunity in Supreme’s tightly-controlled distribution chain, one that has seen the $2.1 billion company sell limited quantities exclusively in its brand-owned and operated stores, and exert razor-sharp focus on very-deliberate and measured expansion, which means that the the streetwear brand maintained less than a dozen stores for most of its 27-year-old existence. All the while, the streetwear brand engaged in truly de minimis traditional marketing, and while Supreme existed “under the radar of mainstream fashion,” as the Guardian put it back in 2019, it garnered itself the reputation as one of the most cult-followed brands in the apparel space.

With consumers all over the world clamoring for Supreme’s buzzy wares and lacking access to them, IBF dreamt up a scheme that – as Supreme has argued – enabled it to essentially hijack an entire brand. 

The Mechanics of the Brand

The mechanics of the building of the Supreme Italia brand (and the corresponding Supreme Spain entity) center largely on jurisdictional variations in trademark law across the globe, namely, the first-to-file trademark systems observed in certain countries, in which intellectual property bodies issue trademark registrations to the first party to simply file an application, not the first to actually use the mark in commerce. This system, which differs from the first-to-use method, notoriously bodes well for trademark squatters (i.e., bad actors that intentionally file trademark applications for another party’s trademark in a country where the original rights holder does not maintain registrations), who might not otherwise be able to establish legitimate and consistent use of a mark in order to gain trademark registrations. 

As such, while IBF began using the Supreme trademark decades later than when Mr. Jebbia first put its box logo on the door of his first brick-and-mortar outpost on Lafayette Street in Manhattan in 1994 and on the garments and accessories inside its store, it was able to obtain registrations because it filed a trademark application in San Marino, one of the world’s smallest countries, before Chapter 4, and then parlayed that registration into others.

Beyond that, IBF managed to successfully influence much of the narrative surrounding its activities by characterizing them as perfectly legal. As TFL stated back in 2019, nearly every mainstream media article devoted to the increasingly attention-grabbing Supreme v. IBF battle describes the Supreme Italia wares – including copycat red sweatshirts that feature the word “Supreme” in a Futura Heavy Oblique font and the knockoff accessories bearing Supreme’s box logo that IBF and its partners have offered up – by using one specific descriptor: “legal fakes.” The term – which refers to “a legal copy of a brand, where ‘legal’ indicates that the fake brand is a trademark registered in a country where the original mark has yet to be launched,” according to Italian trademark attorney Silvia Grazioli of Bugnion SpA – is an entirely novel one. 

In other words, “legal fakes” has no foundation in trademark law in the U.S. or elsewhere. You will not find it mentioned in legal textbooks, case law, or scholarship, unless it is in reference to Supreme and IBF, of course. According to London-headquartered law firm Bird & Bird, “legal fakes” – which suggests, by its very name, that IBF and co. are not running afoul of the law by way of their copycat products  – was adopted “by media outlets to describe Supreme Italia.”

Not So Legal Fakes

While streetwear sites and even big-name news outlets have been quick to publicize the theory of “legal fakes,” a court in England has taken a harsher stance against IBF. Following a jury trial, in connection with which both Michele Di Pierro and his son, Marcello, were found guilty of two counts of fraud, as first reported by Bloomberg, a court issued their sentences on June 25: the elder Di Pierro has been ordered to serve eight years behind bars and Marcello, 24, was given a three-year sentence. Handing down their sentences, Circuit Judge Martin Beddoe held that the Di Pierros “hijacked every facet of [Supreme’s] identity and plagiarized it,” resulting in a “brazen” and “offensive” operation riddled with “dishonesty.”

The court also ordered IBF to pay monetary damages of 7.5 million pounds ($10.4 million) to Supreme in connection with the sweeping and sophisticated trademark scheme. 

Neither Michele nor Marcello Di Pierro were present in court, and arrest warrants were “re-issued following the sentencing,” per Bloomberg. In a statement following the sentencing, Michele Di Pierro asserted that Supreme’s legal attacks against him, his son, and IBF amount to “a very grave and unjustified assault” that involves “absurd, unfounded, and slanderous allegations of counterfeiting registered trademarks.”

Counsel for the Di Pierros stated that the parties had been engaged in settlement talks over the presence of IBF activities in other countries, including the company’s quest to amass “Supreme” trademark registrations. IBF currently has active registrations in Italy, Spain, San Marino, and Tunisia, according to the World Intellectual Property Office’s records. Meanwhile, Supreme has been successful in invalidating registrations previously held by IBF in Singapore, Spain, and Israel. 

The case comes as part of a larger effort by Supreme, which embarked on a quiet but robust international enforcement effort several years ago, thereby, leading to the initiation of legal battles against IBF and related entities before the San Marino Civil Court, the Business Specialized Division of the Court of Milan, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, among other bodies.

One of the biggest developments to date, aside from a jury verdict and sentencing for the Di Pierros, came when law enforcement officials descended upon factories in San Marino, the enclaved microstate situated on the Italian Peninsula between the Italian Apennine mountain range and the crystal waters of the Adriatic coast in early 2018. They had marching orders to do the same in certain cities in Italy, as well. Armed with orders from two courts, the police took possession of all items bearing Supreme’s name and famous red-and-white box logo. The operation – which resulted in the confiscation of approximately 120,000 counterfeit items – has been coined as one of “the most important multi-jurisdiction civil enforcement operations in recent years.”

While once the symbol of athleticism, sneakers have transcended their primary function to become commercial and fashionable objects of desire. From sportswear staples to high fashion status symbols, sneakers have made their mark as cultural commodities, and in the process, the global sneaker market has blossomed into a nearly $80 billion industry as of 2020 and is predicted to reach $120 billion by 2026. With such significant growth at play, it is unsurprising that sneakers make for big business

The last decade has seen a huge shift in how sneakers are worn. Donning a pair is no longer frowned upon in the workplace (in many cases) or for more formal occasions, and even British etiquette experts Debrett’s have given their seal of approval, deeming sneakers socially acceptable for smart casual occasions. At the same time, the continued dominance of the athleisure trend has had a significant impact on the growing sales of sneakers – paired, of course, with the pursuit of comfort. This existing trend only accelerated during the pandemic as lockdowns made people further prioritize comfort, which resulted in a rise in sales of loungewear, athleisure, and flat shoes, such as sneakers. As such, sneakers have moved from sportswear-exclusive footwear to objects with serious fashion credentials. In fact, footwear is now the biggest selling category in the online luxury market, and sneakers have made a significant contribution to this growth.

All the while, high fashion brands – from Gucci to Balenciaga – have helped to set the pace in the luxury sneaker market. In 2017, Balenciaga’s Triple S, for instance, became the biggest seller in the luxury sneaker market and its popularity has largely seemed unstoppable since. (And who could forget Phoebe Philo’s embrace of adidas’ Stan Smith sneakers at the height of her tenure at cult-favored brand Celine?)

Such are the strides in the sneaker industry that a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum explores how the shoe became an undisputed cultural symbol of our times. To understand how the sneaker has emerged to become a footwear phenomenon in its own right, it is important to trace its legacy from function to cultural icon.

From tennis shoes to track

The earliest sports shoes were created by The Liverpool Rubber Company, founded by John Boyd Dunlop, in the 1830s. Dunlop was an innovator who discovered how to bond canvas uppers to rubber soles. These were known as sandshoes and worn by Victorians on their beach excursions. Historian Thomas Turner defines the latter decades of the 19th century as a time when industrial progress and social change were twinned with a growing enthusiasm for sporting pursuits, in particular lawn tennis. This resulted in the need for a more specialized type of footwear, which Dunlop’s rubber sole could fulfil. Dunlop launched their now iconic, Green Flash model in 1929, which was worn by tennis legend Fred Perry at Wimbledon. 

Other significant sports shoes of the 20th century included the Converse All Star, designed for basketball. However, it is Nike and adidas that have both shaped the sneaker’s evolution from sport to style. Founded by Adi Dassler in Germany in 1924 as “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik,” the company later rebranded as adidas in 1949. The brand created the first track shoe with a complete leather sole and hand-forged spikes, which was worn by Jessie Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Fast forward to 1964, and Nike was created by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, initially as Blue Ribbon Sports, but ultimately, rebranded as Nike in 1971. The rise of the Beaverton, Oregon-based titan coincided with the running craze that hit America, with Nike’s first commercial design being its Cortez shoe, which was specifically cushioned for running. The once-humble sneaker was worn by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, thereby, securing Nike’s cultural status. 

The commercialization of cool

Research by the sociologist Yuniya Kawamura defines three waves of the sneaker phenomenon. The first wave in the 1970s was defined by an underground sneaker culture and the emergence of hip-hop. Adidas’ Samba design, as a key example, became a key part of Terrace Fashion within football fan subculture. In 1986, Run-DMC released the song “My Adidas,” leading to a sponsorship deal with the brand, serving to forge the sneaker’s deep-rooted place in popular culture. 

After that, the second wave of the phenomenon began in 1984 with the launch of Nike’s Air Jordans, a move that gave rise to the commodification of sneakers and their desirability as status items, fueled, in large part, by big-name celebrity endorsements, such as with the Jumpman, himself. Finally, for Kawamura, the third wave is marked by the digital age, complete with burgeoning growth in sneaker marketing and resale culture, the latter of which was valued at $6 billion in 2019 and is forecast to be worth a whopping $30 billion by 2030.

The growing presence of “sneakerheads,” i.e., avid sneaker fans that collect and trade sneakers, has ensured continued demand for such footwear, and more specifically, cemented the staying power of an array of specific sneakers styles as cult status symbols. Nike and adidas routinely release limited editions shoes associated with a celebrity, hip-hop star or athlete, and it is not unusual for people to go to extreme lengths to get their hands on these rare models, queuing through the night or paying hundreds – if not thousands – for certain pairs. Examples include Nike’s Air Yeezy 2 “Red October,”  Air Jordan x 1 Off-White “Chicago,” and Kanye West’s Air Yeezys, which were put up for auction by Sotheby’s in April for $1 million, not only making them Sotheby’s most expensive shoe listing ever, but making them a shining example of the heights reached by the lucrative sneaker resale market. 

From sport to fashion, sneakers dominate the consumer market. Yet, despite their adoption by the mainstream, sneakers retain their coolness as cultural icons. 

Naomi Braithwaite is a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing and Branding at Nottingham Trent University. (This article was initially published by The Conversation.)

“Kanye West has one of the biggest hits of the decade – and it has nothing to do with music,” Forbes asserted in the summer of 2019. Sure, Kanye’s studio albums – from his 2004 debut The College Dropout to his most recent Ye – have made him one of the most famous musicians in the world. However, it is his Yeezy venture, including a partnership with German sportswear giant adidas, which first dropped in February 2015, that has positioned the 42-year old as retail force to be reckoned with.

Not unlike Michael Jordan, who made his name in basketball before making a pretty penny by way of his eponymous tie-up with Nike beginning in the 1980’s, “The key to West’s wealth stems from sneakers,” Forbes Zack O’Malley Greenburg stated in 2019. (Valentim Group, the valuation firm launched by a handful of former partners from U.S. transfer pricing firm Economics Partners, puts the value of his music catalog to date at an approximately $110 million).

While West’s ongoing partnership with adidas made its formal debut in 2015 (the parties actually began working together in 2013), his footwear ambitions date back further. His Yeezy line first made headlines by way of the shoes he launched with Nike in 2009, which he then parlayed into a multi-year deal with adidas in 2013, noting that his 2012 Air Yeezy II “was the first shoe to have the same level of impact as an Air Jordan, and I wanted to do more.” He also wanted royalties (i.e., a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the sale of the Yeezy sneakers), which Nike reportedly was not giving him (or any other athletes at the time).

It would not be long before Nike’s closest and longest-standing rival, the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based adidas stepped in and offered him a better deal. “With the help of [then-manager] Scooter Braun, [adidas offered West] what appears to be an unprecedented [licensing] deal” in furtherance of which adidas can use the Kanye west-owned Yeezy name, and make and market products. In return, West gets “a 15 percent royalty on wholesale, according to sources familiar with the deal, plus a marketing fee,” according to Forbes. That is more than the 5 percent royalty that the New York Times recently reported that West earns – the same percentage that Michael Jordan earns from his partnership with Nike.

Bloomberg wrote last year that “West’s partnership with adidas AG, which manufactures and distributes the shoes, is more of a profit-sharing agreement than a typical licensing deal.” In furtherance of the agreement, one that is set to end in 2026, “West has “creative control over designs, while Adidas handles fulfillment and production.”

Yeezy: A Multi-Billion Dollar Business

Fast forward five years from the debut of the Yeezy adidas collection, and the rapper-slash-designer and the German sportswear giant have the $3 billion-earning Jordan empire “in [their] sights, in terms of both cultural clout and commercial prowess,” Forbes projected last year. The Yeezy venture was, according to Forbes’ calculations, “expected to top $1.5 billion in 2019. That figure represents a 50 percent increase from 2018, per Bank of America, and as of the summer of 2019, it was “still growing,” according to Forbes.

Newer figures put the business beyond that point. Bloomberg reported in April 2020 that “Bank of America Corp. valued the sneaker side of the business alone at as much as $3 billion last year,” cautioning that “that was before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the fashion industry.” Specifically addressing West’s Yeezy deal with adidas, Bloomberg’s Sophie Alexander and Kim Basin put the deal in context of adidas’ larger portfolio. Citing Neil Saunders, an analyst at GlobalData Retail, a retail research agency and consulting firm, Bloomberg revealed that “Yeezy is ‘vitally important’ for adidas. Though it may be taking some sales away from the sneaker-maker’s other lines, Yeezy has had a halo effect on them, adding cultural prestige and raising the brand’s credibility with younger shoppers.” 

Since then, Bloomberg has provided yet another update on Yeezy, this time from UBS Group AG, which has valued West’s sneaker and apparel business, including his ongoing deal with adidas AG, as well as his impending venture with Gap Inc., “at $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion.” The value of the new Gap tie-up, in particular, “which will hit stores this summer, could be worth as much as $970 million of that total, the bank estimated.”

“Sales for Yeezy’s adidas sneakers remained resilient through the pandemic, growing 31 percent to nearly $1.7 billion in annual revenue last year and netting [Mr. West] $191 million in royalties,” Bloomberg reported, citing the UBS report. Meanwhile, based on the investment bank and financial services company’s documentation, “Gap expects its Yeezy line to break $150 million in sales in its first full year in 2022,” and if all goes well, “exceed $1 billion as soon as 2023.”

Breaking Down the Deal(s)

As for how these deals work from an intellectual property-ownership standpoint, it remains true that West maintains control of Yeezy, or more specifically, the trademark rights upon which the brand has been built, and upon which its partnerships so heavily depend. To breakdown is essentially this: West’s Mascotte Holdings is the sole holder of the trademark rights in (and registrations for) “Yeezy” and “YZY” for use on footwear and apparel, which West’s corporate entity then licenses to adidas for use in connection with the footwear collection, and to Gap for the impending apparel deal. This enables West to monetize this intellectual property (and bring in royalties), while still maintaining complete ownership over the identity of the venture.

(If Mascotte’s most recent trademark filing is any indication (and sometimes, a company’s filings are an indication of what is to come), West is looking to branch out further, with the IP holding company filing an additional “Yeezy”-specific trademark application for use of the name on cosmetics – including “concealers, blushers, facial powders, foundation makeup, eye makeup, eye pencils, eyebrow pencils, mascara, false eyelashes, face and body glitter, cosmetic compacts sold filled with cosmetics, cosmetic pencils, lipstick, lipstick cases, lipstick holders, lip gloss,” etc. – in June 2020.)

In terms of the long-running deal between West and adidas, the sportswear titan is not without rights of its own. For instance, adidas holds the rights in the Yeezy footwear designs, themselves, with adidas designers Nic Galway and Aurelien Longo listed as inventors of design patents for the Yeezy 750 Boost; and Galway, alone, listed as the inventor of the patent-protected classic Yeezy boost sneaker and variations thereof. All of the patents, and a similar copyright registration, are assigned to – and thus, owned by – adidas, and West receiving royalties based on sales in connection with the use of his Yeezy marks. Hence, the $191 million check West received from adidas in 2020.

From a transactional standpoint, chances are, the heavily-anticipated collaboration with Gap runs the same way.

*This article was initially published in July 2019 and has been updated to reflect Bloomberg’s new figures.