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Judge orders US sneaker platform GOAT to cease the sell of apparel

Lauretta Roberts
02 October 2020

In what has been described as a "David & Goliath" battle, a federal judge in New York has "preliminarily enjoined" US-based sneaker platform Goat Group from selling apparel and apparel accessories using the GOAT trademark, as a result of a dispute with British luxury fashion brand Goat Fashion.

Goat Group recently landed $100 million in investment from D1 Capital Partners to expand its apparel business, in a move which valued the platform at $1.75 billion. However in December of last year London-based Goat Fashion had already commenced a trademark infringement and breach of contract lawsuit against 1661, Inc., which trades as Goat Group.

Goat Fashion, which was founded by British entrepreneur Jane Lewis, has asserted that it owns the trademark rights to clothing for GOAT in the United States and has done so since 2004. 1661 and Goat Fashion had in 2017 entered into a Consent Agreement (essentially a co-existence agreement) after the US Trademark Office refused to register 1661’s GOAT mark in connection with its online marketplace. 

The US Trademark Office’s refusal specifically cited Goat Fashion’s prior GOAT registrations, finding a likelihood of consumer confusion. In that Consent Agreement, 1661 agreed to sell sneakers and not clothing or clothing accessories in order to obtain a GOAT trademark registration for its online marketplace for sneakers.

In July of last year 1661 approached Goat Fashion seeking permission to sell apparel on its marketplace platform but the British brand declined saying it was concerned about the potential for confusion among consumers. Nonetheless 1661 went ahead and began selling clothing on its app in October, which prompted Goat Fashion to begin legal proceedings in December.

When 1661 added apparel to its website in February, Goat Fashion filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction.

The Goat Fashion website

The Honorable Paul A. Engelmayer of the federal court in New York granted the injunction at a hearing on 28 September. Judge Engelmayer ruled that Goat Fashion met its burden in demonstrating irreparable harm and likelihood of success on the merits of its breach of contract and trademark infringement claims and said that 1161's inability to sell apparel under the GOAT brand was “a problem of its own making, as it had bound itself in the Consent Agreement not to do so.” 

Thomas Telesca, Esq. of the Uniondale, New York law firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C represented the British fashion business during the proceedings and said: “We are very pleased with the outcome and the Court’s detailed decision on our claims in this David versus Goliath fight.

Goat Fashion was established by Jane Lewis in 2001 and primarily operates online with a standalone store in London's Mayfair. It is also sold via select wholesale partners including Matchesfashion.com.

Sneaker platform GOAT was established in 2015. On 23 September the company announced it had secured $100 million from D1 Capital Partners in a series E funding round. Announcing the deal co-founder and CEO Eddy Lu said: "We will utilise this new round of funding to capture the significant market opportunities in sneakers, apparel and additional categories through technological innovation and by building even greater scale across our verticals."

The business previously raised $300m from strategic investors including Accel, Foot Locker, Index and Upfront Ventures. As of 2 October the business is still offering apparel on its site.

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