Nike to “homage” brand Mike: Cease and desist

Posted by Rob Walker on March 17, 2008
Posted Under: Brand Underground,Fandom,Update

A while back (January 29, 2006) I did a column on a small New York-based brand called Mike, created by Scott Nelson. As I noted at the time, much about Mike’s design referenced Nike. I wrote:

Nelson is not trying to pass off his clothing as Nike goods, in the manner of a Canal Street counterfeiter. Nor is he engaging in some kind of subversive satire, like AdBusters magazine’s famous twisting of Joe Camel into a dying and bedridden Joe Chemo. “I’m strictly paying homage,” he says, adding that he doesn’t expect any trouble. He did talk to a lawyer first and says he believes he has tweaked everything enough to be on the right side of the law, but that’s not the real reason he’s confident. “If anything,” he says, “I’m helping their brands.”

My interest in Mike — or rather Mike 23 Inc. — was precisely this unusual thing – it was a kind of tribute brand, and I’d not seen anything quite like that before.

And for about two years following that column, it seemed that Nelson was correct in not worrying about trouble from Nike, because none was forthcoming.

Recently, however, Nelson got in touch to tell me that this has changed. Nike has sent him a cease and desist. He shared this with me, and as such letters tend to be, it’s fairly straightforward. Dated February 13, 2008, it says:

Nike has learned that you and/or Mike23 Inc. are engaged in the design, marketing and sale of clothing, footwear products and accessories that infringe Nike and Converse’s trademarks and trade dress… However, neither Nike nor Converse has granted you any rights to use their trademarks or trade dress. Further, your reference to and use of Michael Jordan’s name in connection with the marketing of your products violates his rights of publicity.

The letter acknowledges that Nelson has described his brand as a tribute/homage, but the upshot is the same: “Nike and Converse hereby demand that you and Mike23 Inc. cease and desist from all infringing use of any mark, logo or design that infringes Nike and Converse’s rights.” That demand includes an “orderly withdrawal of all infringing products from the market,” and that be “disabled immediately, at least to the extent that any page shows or references an infringing mark, logo or design or references Michael Jordan.”

Nelson, of course, is pretty upset. The Mike brand is largely how he makes a living, he says he’s in no position to wage a legal fight, and even if he were figures that many of his retail accounts, which also sell actual Nikes, are unlikely to antagonize the sneaker giant by selling products that it doesn’t want on the market.

I’m no lawyer, and I’m not in a position to take sides. But I will say that I’m puzzled that it would happen now. My column ran, as noted, two years ago, and even then Mike had been around for a little while at least, its products having already been highlighted in magazines such as Mass Appeal and Juxtopoz, as well as a number of streetwear/sneaker web sites.

This general issue of dealing with intellectual property and fans – and I think it’s pretty safe to say Nelson really is a Nike/Jordan fan, based on my conversations with him back when I was reporting that column – has become a thorny one for years, and the pendulum has gone back and forth. Sometimes the prevailing attitude seems to be that a tolerant attitude is better in the long run.

But lately things seem to be shifting a bit. In the last few months, Prince has reportedly gone after fans, as has J.K. Rowling. Generally brand fandom is less intense than the sort that accrues to pop stars and best-selling authors, but as I noted a little while back, Crocs sent a cease-and-desist to a fan blogger (who I’d also written about), who had to rename his site. And Nike does enjoy unusual levels of devotion that sometimes manifest in fans using the brand’s name. (The massively popular NikeTalk site, which at one point was selling T’s, comes to mind.)

Nelson, of course, is hoping that Nike will reconsider, coming around to his view that not only is his small brand not doing the company any marketplace damage, he’s indirectly helping them — particularly since the venues he sells in tend to be frequented by fairly sophisticated consumers who “get” what Mike is. The way he sees it, he’s no different than those Prince or Rowling devotees, now finding himself threatened by the very entity he most admires.

What do you think? Will Nike see it that way? Should they?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

Two quick points: Cease-and-desists are a dime a dozen these days. Brand managers routinely hire consultants to troll the net for brand references and to churn out c-and-ds. Much of the time the company in question has no intention of actually suing; it is simply defending its brand…. if it doesn’t, it has a weaker argument when true counterfeiters come along.

That said, I’m not sure this guy is going to get off scot-free here. There’s a significant difference bet. trademark (Nike, Converse icons) and copyright (Prince music, Harry Potter media)….and less first amendment protection for the former (no “fair use” clause, for instance). Mike can call it an “homage” or whatever he pleases but the real question is what separates his products from garden variety knockoffs when they appear on shelves.

Written By carrie on March 17th, 2008 @ 8:02 pm

I think that’s all reasonable.

As noted, what I find puzzling is that they waited two-plus years to make this move. I don’t think the material facts have changed significantly, so I wonder if the climate has changed. There have been moments when the prevailing wisdom was “let it go,” and the prevailing wisdom was “defend your intellectual property” (trademark or copyright) whatever the PR costs.

But maybe there’s been a material fact change here since 06 that I’ve missed.

Written By Rob Walker on March 17th, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

Just to put some $$$ figures.

Defending such a frivolous action by Nike will most probably cost Scott somewhere in the vicinity of 150K and that is assuming it never ends up in court. Contrary to Carrie’s statements, Scott cannot take a chance on Nike discovering their long lost conscience, the PR nightmare they’re creating and the disappointment of the target market it creates and adopt a “wait and see” attitude. This is the classic market controlling A_Hole move one would expect from a brand that realizes it lost it’s street cred. Note that it came exactly when they are trying to revamp the iron-lung, life support, Kavorkian ready brand Jordan. Well done Nike.

Written By Zach on March 18th, 2008 @ 8:48 am

Nike is loosing turnover all around the world, because the worldwide economy is in bad situation, because their products are not good enough, because they’ve more competitors now… Brands like Mike23,Gourmet, SUPREME are energizing the streetwear Market. Those brands relaunched the streetwear market & the 90’s inspiration, Nike is taking advantage of that, so it’s kind of hypocritical to bring suit against MIKE 23.
In that case, Nike can chase all the brands that using their sneakers design,patterns, logos…& Converse can do the same for all the brands copying Chuck Taylors designs…

Written By Kevin Couliau on March 18th, 2008 @ 9:16 am

Well if your nike and you have a policy were you dont let anyone use your name or image your not gonna give exceptions its a simple case of general policy, if you bend for MIKE there will hundreds of other trying to exploit the same privilege.

But i think nike is just pissed mike is basically ripping old Jordan clothing not paying homage as they would like you to believe but straight jacking stuff and thats not cool under any circumstance.

Written By T on March 18th, 2008 @ 9:20 am

damn, to think i slept on getting all that gear. kick me. Mike23 design was exactly what it was supposed to be…champion. Much Respect to Scott Nelson and Mike23 for a fucking brilliant run.

Written By h&g1 on March 18th, 2008 @ 10:16 am

They should have just offered them jobs designing with Nike, or made mike23 a line by nike then it would work out better for the both of them, I think mike 23 was dope and i guess the pieces will be somewhat of a rarirty in years to come. guess i wont thrift store the jordan 8 shirt i got

Written By CITO on March 18th, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

It was bound to happen… “In my opinion” Mike/ Nelson is straight BITING not paying homage. The flip side : Nike also bites but has $$$ to bully others around, so f**k them too. If Mike / Nelson wanted to pay homage to Jordan he should’ve been a bit more original with it. Now MIKE has to retire.

Written By Nems on March 18th, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

thats why you got to come up with your own ideas..

kids these days got nothing original..everything on that streetwear level…is
a mirror of something already done..

Written By tito on March 18th, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

His stuff was pretty weak, and the quality was BEAT

Written By Simon on March 18th, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

Okay, that’s the last comment I’m approving that’s about the “quality” of Mike. You’re missing the point. If you have something to say about what Nike is doing here, and whether they are justified, or making a mistake, great. Comments like “Simon”s are not interesting. If he said what you wanted to say, great, it’s out there. Say something thoughtful, or go start your own blog.

Written By Rob Walker on March 18th, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

On interressting thing… when i did my af1 Id in the nike id studio, NY, all employee wearing Mike23 shirts….

Written By pulp68 geneva on March 18th, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

im really disappointed in nike why would u chase a small guy that just gives a product that gives homage u admire there achivements and brings you good memories when u first got a glimpse of the brand and sneaker that changed history i support scott all the way i hope hes product will be worth as much as vintage polo he did it from and wasnt a mediocre like “corporate nike”

Written By ceaze on March 18th, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

If I was a lawyer, I’d think I was doing the right thing here…and I’d be wrong. Hopefully someone with more sense and fewer law credits will realize how shortsighted this decision is.

MIKE23, in my humble streetwearing option, helps Nike. Shutting down Mike23 feels very much like the RIAA’s decision to arrest DJ Drama.

Nike’s marketing has always been ahead of its time. Hopefully they’ll be wise enough to realize that bringing Scott Nelson into the fold is the best decision they could make.

And if not, I’m sure that Scott could help jumpstart the streetwear faction of adidas, pro-keds, or puma.

Written By Hire Scott Nelson on March 18th, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

Why go after the small guy. I think Nike apparel misses the boat when they try to design product to hook up with Jordan sneakers. They didn’t send that letter because of money, they sent it because of creativity, Nelson’s creativity and simple approach makes a connection with the consumer. Nike figures we have to stop this guy now, for example we can’t put out a pair of official Chucks with elephant print because it will be seen as Nike stealing the Mike23 concept. The Jordan symbol is well known, if Nike had issues with MIKE23’s symbol they should have trademarked every possible silhouette of Michael Jordan, which they didn’t do you can check the website search (NIKE) (JORDAN).

For example Rapper Big Pun(RIP) has a logo similiar to the Jordan symbol, is The Big Pun Estate going to get a cease and desist letter I don’t think so, because Fat Joe will send a special South Bronx smackdown to Beaverton. They make Jordan hot in the hood.

I was at the Sean john store on 5th ave and saw a SJ logo that was similiar to the Lebron james logo, is Sean john going to receive a cease and desist letter, NOPE!

If another company puts out a Lion with a crown logo are they going to receive a cease and desist letter from Lebron James/NIKE, NOPE!

And Nigo’s biggest sneaker is a straight knock off of NIKE’s most celebrated sneaker the Air Force 1, will Nike send Bathing Ape a cease and desist letter, NOPE!

New Era has put out a ton of Elephant print fitteds for different companies, will Nike send New Era a cease and desist letter, NOPE!

The letter was set because they want to stop MIKE23’s creativity, not money. MIKE23 is only going to create more product that makes a connection to consumer, and that is what Nike is afraid of.

What Jordan Apparel is missing is passion and creativity, and MIKE23 can probably provide that. But instead of cultivating that creativity they rather destroy it.

Typical David and Goliath. Sending that letter was very Fugazzi on Nike’s part.

This just in NIKE will be sending everyone a cease and desist letter for everyone bearing the name MIKE. Are they not getting enough oxygen in Beaverton you can’t trademark the number 23…….lol

This just in NIKE will be sending everyone in the world a cease and desist letter for everyone who has a bald head……lol

The mistake that Nelson made was mentioning that he was paying homage to MJ.
Listen all you consumers if dropping $150-$200 dollars on a pair of Jordans is not homage enough there is something really wrong with the world.

I was watching the special on MSNBC about Nike, and Phil Knight said that last year they made 16 Billion dollars if I’m correct. Do you really think MIKE23 is making a dent into that or ruining the Jordan Brand are you serious.

Nike should stop sending letters out and save some trees….lol

Step your game up!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Written By Sebastian on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:46 am

They should consider doing a high-profile collaboration with Scott Nelson so they don’t come out as big bad Nike. Compensation for the lo$$, to encourage this guy to shut his thing down.

Written By Christina Lomeli on March 19th, 2008 @ 2:25 am

Nike is mad because there are apparel companies popping up that are catering to a lot of the very same customer base that buys Nike shoes religiously (i’m referring to Nike collectors/enthusiasts and not your average joe).

The fact of the matter is that Nike wants people to buy their Nike apparel with their footwear but in the lifestyle apparel industry no one’s really wanting to wear a Nike shirt with Nike shoes, in general.

Written By Trung Tao on March 19th, 2008 @ 2:35 am

Was about time that this happens. Now Versace should go after such lame ripp off guys like Crooks and Castles.

Brands like Mike or Crooks and Castles lack creativity, that’s why they copy.

Written By wonton on March 19th, 2008 @ 2:49 am

It would be nice to see Nike let some of these smaller brands stay alive. Especially since in the world that Nike has recently broken into, the sneaker dork/underground world, companies usually do not sue each other, but retaliate by becoming more clever with their concepts. I don’t wear Mike23 nor have I bought it, but honestly dude should have seen this coming. Nike regardless of their “cool” product image is a large company armed with legal teams with briefcases.

That being said, New Balance and Staple are releasing a piegon NB575, lets hope they dont find a way to sue them. Because those are going to be hot hot hot.

Written By Ernie on March 19th, 2008 @ 3:19 am

i’m going to try this again. but in a different form.. I tried to make a post on here yesterday with a Ghostface quote from “Shark Ni**as” I guess it was a bit to raw for your blog so I will try a different approach.
The fact that Nike (and let me start by saying I am not Nike’s biggest fan) has created a brand with an athlete (Jordan) who is one of the greatest to play the game and invested time and money on this definitely gives them the right to go after Mike23. Afterall let’s re-cap, Mike23 used the same Fonts Nike has been using for years, the Jumpman icon, the Crackle print, the color palette from Jordan, etc… basically folks, for all you non industry heads.. thats called a brand identity. And I don’t care how big or small the company, what’s right is right and what they created is theirs, not someone elses. And it would have been one thing if they did a one off run of some “homage” pieces, but when you start to turn a profit off it and create your whole brand around what someone else did that’s clearly infringement. And it’s clearly un-original. I have been saying this since I saw the first Nike product.
So please get off the David and Goliath tip on this one and realize the real on this.
Biting is Biting is Biting. You can’t have it both ways.
Creativity means creating something new. If they love Jordan so much they should have gone and tried to contribute to the brand Jordan has already created.
No argument on this one. Hopefully this passes through the moderator. Free Speech.


Written By the truth on March 19th, 2008 @ 8:22 am

one correction, i mean to say “I have been saying this since I saw the first Mike23 product” . thanks, its still mad early where I’m at.

Written By the truth on March 19th, 2008 @ 8:24 am

I don’t remember your earlier comment, it’s possible I deleted in error, but so far the only things I have not let through are either all-caps entries, which I just can’t stand, a couple that were all invective with obviously fake email addresses. I can’t remember anything that I didn’t let through for being “too raw.” Anyway I understand where you’re coming from, and thanks for the feedback.

Written By Rob Walker on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:16 am

nike sucks the big one for this move. they would now have to go after many other brands like Sneaktip, L & D, Undercrown and others that use images of nike products. Mike23 had lots of great clothes and its sucks that nike wants to kill this mans dream….. good thing I got my crackle hoodie last year. thanks mike23 for everything best of luck.


Written By I'm me! on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:19 am

Well does anyone remember Bape? Not only do their Bapesta model’s completely rip off the the silhouette of the Nike Af-1, but now their Roadsta’s are a direct homage to a few features on several Nike Air Maxes.

It seems that Nike won’t go after Bape, which has DIRECTLY taken a design from Nike, but they will go after the little guy. A precedent of tolerance had already been set when Nigo was still allowed to make millions off the silhouette of the Bapesta.

Nike needs to settle down and realize that their cultural significance has become more than the company. Are they going to start putting up C&Ds to barbershops that are willing to shave a Jumpman into the back of your head?

Have some respect for your customers and fans. Anyway who has been a sneakerhead or an avid fan of Jordan Brand can tell you that Mike23 poses absolutely no threat to Nike’s bottom line.

Written By not like bapes on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:25 am

Yeah i make the GHOSTFACE Tee vs the NorthFace
as seen here
i got hit with a C& D from North face , i change my design a little and i still make my SHirts,
So yeu gotta have Balls and go with what you Know is What the Streets is Buying,
Those suits in the Office dont ever Know what sells and why,

So dont ever Trip on a C& D letter Keep it Rocking Homie
they Dont really wanna sue you ,

Written By JAY SKI on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:32 am

As a former employee of MIKE23 Inc., it is unfortunate to hear of this news. I did not see the work of MIKE23 ever compromising the business of NIKE. The actions of NIKE will only bring more attention to MIKE23, it also shows that MIKE23 is now on their radar… In the midst of all this, this article will bring nothing but good PR for MIKE23. NIKE has just realized that MIKE23 was in a market they have failed to conquer, which is, “street wear.”

Written By Mike A on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:37 am

It’s very much a David and Goliath situation,but the key word is “identity”,when I see the “MIKE” product I see it as a “copy” of Jordan clothing,not as a original clothing line,it does give the consumer a choice of wearing clothing that are more Jordan influenced, than the clothing Jordan Brand actually makes,”MIKE’s” influence is becomimg larger and more global,the clothing is now being seen in major magazines.internet magazines,blogs etc.,and what do you do to a “cancer”,you cut it out before it grows and becomes larger,and it’s not just a message to “MIKE”,Nike does this to show that they’re the big bully at the playground

I think this may actually be good for the “MIKE” brand, now it forces them to become more creative,they have a following, now it’s time to move forward

Written By klon22 on March 19th, 2008 @ 11:13 am

How do we support the little guy here? Can we send money to Mike23 to help him fight the legal battle? I’m familiar with the brand, the retail industry, and streetwear. I think this is totally ridiculous on Nike’s part. The Mike23 brand is so small that why should Nike care? I think it reminds people how culturally relevant Jordan and Nike were to so many people during the early nineties. It’s sad to see a respected brand stoop so low and try to monopolize every market and niche.

Written By cbz on March 19th, 2008 @ 11:17 am

The only noteworthy products from Mike23 were the elephant print items. Which consisted of some sweatshirts, those low chucks and an umbrella. Maybe one or two other items. I can’t remember. Oh yeah. That monogram jumpman t_shirt. (Wow, that’s not a misuse of the jordan brand’s logo)n If Scott was making a living off his line, it must have been just barely. I’ve been to the Mike23 website and there’s not a lot of product available for purchase. There’s no way a company of it’s size can actually fight Nike in a legal battle. I’m not surprised that they’re trying to shut him down. The reason why it’s taken them 2 years is because his line probably wasn’t even on their radar. Or maybe they figured he’d have a quick run and then fold. Now the fun’s over. Time to come up with some more original ideas for a clothing line.

Written By Ani Quinn on March 19th, 2008 @ 11:55 am

The current market correction (recession) requires those who are in retail, especially at the boutique level to respect law and distributor’s rights. That is, if they want those contracts.

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

If projects like MIKE 23 Inc. are to exist they must as the graffiti artist practices and displays his/her craft. But it’s too late for this guy, they know exactly who he is.

Written By A Street Economist on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

We have been long time supporters of Mike and the “streetwear” industry. As a retailer of many of the brands that have been mentioned here – we do have to stop and think at times where the line should be drawn on what is being created or what is being borrowed. There are many times that we do not carry a brand or certain designs from a brand because of blatant “borrowing”. However, for a brand like Mike, yes it is obvious that there is a serious reference to Michael Jordan. However, in this case, if you did not immediately recognize that connection, that would only mean a poor effort at designing a line born from one of the greatest ball players in history. Would Nike prefer to have bootleg, poorly produced knock-offs on Canal Street? Oh wait, they do. As someone in the industry, we feel that Mike has only contributed to the growing success of Nike in the “streetwear” industry. Does Nike really believe that fans of Jordan are going to think twice about a well designed, quality piece of apparel that has design elements that are relevant to them? Pieces that match their “streetwear” or Jordan wardrobe? Do they really believe that these guys are going to stop and think twice if it is actually from Nike (esp when the line Mike is sitting next to the top players in the industry)? Most of these guys are fans of Jordan or purveyors of style. These guys would opt to support the mom and pop over corporate America when given the choice. And at the end of the day, that is the reality. And with situations like this, this is a sad reality when corporate america again tries to dictate where shoppers are suppose to spend their money. Mike is not the only brand that has been targeted by big corporations – but with the help of blogs like this, dialogue can begin about the actual state of the industry and where the line is blurred between creating and borrowing.

Written By SHQ on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

His logo looks exactly like the Jordan logo…its infringing on intellectual property rights. Sorry but Mike23 is wrong. BAPE should be next for their version of the AF1…Be original and you will never get noticed. Bite from the past what we already know is hot and everyone praises you. Give it up. Streetwear is a self-praising bunch of unoriginal tards.

Written By Sneakerhead on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

You really can’t hate on NIke…Without them there would be no Jordan brand or a Micheal Jordan sneaker….The marketing/commercial spots, etc..etc,,were paid for by NIKE,,..If I owned a brand I would try originality or maybe yall should just hollar @ Mr.Jordan he is the man responsible for all the hype!!! Love the game!! but don’t lose your change to the corporate brains,,white dudes wit no shame….

Written By Big Daddy Jokes on March 19th, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

the entire basis of the brand was the old Nike typeface (with wings), a minorly altered jordan logo and a lot of similar patterns (crackle/elephant). It was an intriguing and though-provoking project, but far from “unique” or original.

I see it more as something that should have been done as a unique niche line under the Jordan/Nike brand, as it is too similar, and relies far too heavily on the past successes of Nike and the Jordan brand to be its own thing.

If you create something that is all your own, you will not run into these problems. Streetwear is suffering from a lack of originality as it is. Everyone is trying merely to improve on someone else’s design or latest trend rather than coming up with their own (cardigans, flannels, elephant print sneakers, AF1s, vans, Chucks, etc.).

I’m not a fan of corporate bullying, but I see the logic and merit in their argument. And, I know that if I were Nike, I wouldn’t really be a fan of someone doing what he is doing to my logos. It was a long road to supremacy for them, and they are rightfully reluctant to be defensive over the designs that brought them there.

Good run, but time for something new or a design job at Nike. This is a serious setback, but he undoubtedly has the connections and marketing/design savvy to survive. Best wishes.

Written By dave on March 19th, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

Dear “the truth”

Just one question, if it is such a threat, why did Nike wait 2+ years before issuing the C&D letter? Also, no one in this respectful list of commentators has even once indicated that there is even the slightest likelihood of confusion between the brands, so what brand identity is being jeopardized?

As far as Scott goes, time to move on. Being co-opted by Nike is not where you need to be. You need to take Mike to the next level, where Nike can only sit on the outside and WISH they were associated with YOU!

Written By Zach on March 19th, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

It is bull shit! A bunch of companies have came out with Nike and Converse like the very new Gourmet shoes that uses Jordan 10 and 7 designs with Converse bottoms so they need to get up on that shit. but the shoes are hot. lol

Written By Raymond on March 19th, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

Zach – and all other heads reading this

Why did Nike wait 2 years? I haven’t the slightest idea and can’t even see how timing is relevant in regard to what I wrote. I am surprised it took them this long. I questioned the Mike23 brand from day one, just as I have questioned Bape since day one. As a designer/artist myself I cannot respect the theft of another’s idea for profit. After all Zach, I’m sure you, like me, have bills to pay and when creating art,product or otherwise is your means for getting paper.. .you value what you create because it’s what you do and what allows you to live. I also understand Phil Knight and the other execs get paid plenty and at this point in their careers aren’t as in need for profit as some of us are.
Like Dave put it, “It was a long road to supremacy for them, and they are rightfully reluctant to be defensive over the designs that brought them there.” And I am sure the cats over at Mike23 at some point would like to gain similar supremacy, the only problem is they are attempting to attain it from the ideas of other people. This is where integrity comes in to play. The integrity to know that what was created is of you and your team, it is yours to share with the rest of the world and to stand behind with pride.. that’s whats really good. And to be inspired by another’s work is one thing, but to sit down at the drawing board with already established artwork in front of you thinking, how can i add something to this or erase something, or just outright use it, that’s not integrity that’s not creation. That is called Biting. And being in the so called “streetwear” game for more people to not realize this sooner is ridiculous. I won’t go on a tangent about what is and isn’t street, but heads know what I’m sayin.

So what it boils down to is, either you earn the money or you rob the fuckin bank. Either option has it’s own set of consequences and repercussions. The choice is yours. And it seems like Mike23 WISHED they were associated with NIKE. They should have just put together a dope proposal and hollered at Jordan. Play the game and be real, both can be done and with success.


Written By the truth on March 19th, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

thanks for the follow up. keep up the blog, you have a good thing going.


Written By the truth on March 19th, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

Nike is in an awkward position on this one. Mike 23 is a homage to Michel Jordan this is obvious. On the other hand the use of elephant print is definitely derived from classic Nike Jordan gear as are many of the designs used by Mike 23. The brand also does a lot of stuff I dig a lot more than recent Nike stuff in particular the horrible brand Jordan stuff. I believe if marketed correctly under the wing of the mighty brand Jordan the line could actually be a pretty successful mainstream modern day version of a Champion type of brand as well as provide some cult of organic cool for Nike/brand Jordan something it hasn’t had in a long time.

This unfortunately won’t happen with the monolithic and very removed mentalities that often exist in huge companies like Nike. It is simply another case of big bank taking little bank and unfortunately Scott Nelson is the little bank this time. It’s too bad if Nike approached the situation differently it could actually be a win/win situation for them and for Mike 23. Those Mike Chucks I copped last year and kept in the box are gonna be real fresh this summer. Dam ow I wish I had bought the couch when I saw it at Reed Space last year ……..

Written By D Ross on March 20th, 2008 @ 12:32 am

Scott bought me my first pair of Jordans in 94 when I was 3! His creative ideas have opened up the street scene in my opinion. Not only does he have creativity, but hes a good guy and has always been there for me. Sucks to see a Billion dollar company destroy somthing that is completely real.

Best of Luck MIKE23.

Written By Cannon on March 20th, 2008 @ 12:52 am

wow! i thought Mike23 was a Nike product…

Written By B on March 20th, 2008 @ 4:32 am

if mike 23 is shutting down, the ant of the entire streetwear industry will be against giant nike.

Written By anonymous on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:11 am

If Mike23 was placed in a different context say swapmeet/Canal St. I’m sure it would be labeled a knock off/copy right away, but since it’s presented on “streetwear” blogs and placed in boutiques and hyped up and cosigned it’s somehow seen as a legitimate brand?

It’s like if you place a urinal in a museum, and surround it with guards, and have it praised by critics, it’s considered high art, but when it’s in a restroom it’s just something for me to piss in.

If Mike23 wasn’t a knock off Nike wouldn’t even have an argument/case, but it’s clear to see here they obviously do.

Written By s on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:13 am

And if you don’t think Jordan’s name/brand/image didn’t play a huge role in bringing “Mike23″ success just think how far this brand would’ve gotten if it was named something like “Bob41″/”Dave29″

You think Michael Jordan is getting checks from Scott Nelson?

Written By s on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:20 am

MIKE23 fucked up by using wayyyyy to much NIKE images and logos.

His shit was dope as fuck, but not because it was original, because it was something that was already dope for years….

NIKE did all that shit first.

Come on… the WINGS logo? The NIKE logo?

That is not original at all. Changing the first letter, removing the AIR JORDAN and adding the MIKE.

I cant belive they let it ride as long as they did.

Even the siloutte he used for the MIKE23 logo is a NIKE owned image.

His line focused on the NIKE brand wayyyy more then Michael Jordan.

If you wanna pay homage to Michael Jordan you dont sell one color shirts for $36.

Thats rape, not homage.

If he was smart he would have used a different logo for his company and used the NIKE / MIKE logo and the Wings logo as shirt designs not the main logo for his company, he would have only recived C&D Orders for the shirts with copy right images instead of shutting down the whole line.

If I was Phil Knight I would SHUT IT DOWN!

Everyone else will disagree but if you were Phil Knight you would do the same thing.

You can’t let people jack your shit like that.

You just can’t let people get over on you like that.

A design here or there whatever, but starting a company based off the biggest sports company in the world???

Thats a violation.

He knew this was coming, he was just shocked he got away with it for so long.

I truly feel sorry for Scott, this must really really hurt, but dont try to make NIKE look like the bad guy.

NIKE is protecting the integrity of the brand, although many people may know and understand the MIKE23 is a totally different brand nothing to do with NIKE, the average consumer will have no clue, not to mention the people that see other people wearing it and wondering what the hell that MIKE is?

It was a great idea, he had a great run, a very hard lesson learned, but if your gonna put all your eggs in one basket, you better make sure the basket doesnt have any holes in it.

The MIKE23 brand had a huge piece of tape on the basket, and he knew one day, any day, at any time the tape could fall off. And the more eggs you put in that basket, the sooner the tape will rip off.

Scott will bounce back, the people love him, I can’t wait to see his next move.

Good luck Scott.

Don’t stop!

Written By Good Luck. on March 20th, 2008 @ 9:02 am

Hey Everyone!!!

I have “murketing” Tshirts for sale!
I have “murketing” Tshirts for sale!
I have “murketing” Tshirts for sale!

One color, one print location!

$30 plus S+H

They’ll only be promoted through the comments section of this blog so they’ll be EXCLUSIVE to you lucky in the know “murketing” readers!!

Hey Rob you better approve my promotional comments after all I’m just “the little guy”paying “homage” to you and your great blog. Think of the exposure you’ll receive and how much I’ll help your blog grow.

Don’t expect any cut of the profits

Written By s on March 20th, 2008 @ 9:07 am

I would love it somebody made murketing T-shirts.

Then again, this is not a for-profit enterprise, so it’s a little different.

As for the profits — good luck!

Written By Rob Walker on March 20th, 2008 @ 10:05 am

Streetwear, street culture and artists have always re-interpreted iconic logos and pop culture images to connect to people. (i.e. Andy Warhol) In their eyes they are ‘re-appropriating’ these images for their subculture. It has gone on and will continue to, they will draw out emotional response and debate about originality and legality.

I may be ‘dating’ myself here, but this reminds me of a situation back in 1992-3, when SSUR put out his ‘awidas’ t-shirt. He took the adidas fleur logo added two leaves making it look like a marijuana leaf. This was also at the time when GFS (Gerb, Futura and Stash) came out with their “Phillies Blunt” tees, which I believe they later granted them a license to use the logo for a fee instead of a long drawn out legal battle because the shirts generated such a buzz for the brand. (citation needed – lol)

It was different case with SSUR, the adidas legal team not only served him with a cease and desist, but with fines based on profits from the sales of the shirt. They went so far as to hitting the retailers (like Union and 555-Soul) with the same penalty.

The c & d stated that they did not want the brand affiliated with drug culture, which is funny since two years later they produce hemp footwear and this year are releasing a ‘shelltoe’ in tobacco color with a “Philies Blunt-looking” logo on the tongue. Corporate hypocrisy!

The point I want to address is why did Nike wait so long to address this situation with Mike 23. We have to understand that most corporate giant legal teams are so far removed from sneaker/street culture and even their own product departments that one notion could be that they didn’t even know Mike 23 existed until recently. Another thing is, even if Scott was flowing product to Mike Parker or Gemo Wong and they loved it, it has nothing to do with legal department. I’m sure there were meetings discussing the Mike23 once it did get to legal and the PR ramifications that will come from this, but you have to throw rhyme or reason out of the window when it comes to legal.

I mean look, Nike sues Mike 23, Mike23 sueing New Era for the crackle print, which was used by Jordan…

Written By mp on March 20th, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

Timing will always be a big question, but I’m guessing that it has something to do with the viability of the brand (aka the fact that it’s stuck around for 2 years). No use churning out C&Ds if the brand kicks it in the first year.

Perhaps the only people at Nike who knew about Mike23 were those who actually enjoyed the product and one day he or she wore a T to the office and a Director, etc. started to ask some questions. Your guess is as good as mine, but I like having a little backstory to go along with my speculation.

Written By dave on March 20th, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

MIKE23 Is not suing New Era guys… they sent Scott a summons over a parody, which is legal…He is not interested in suing any one…get it right,,,and that so called crackle print has been around before the Jordan 3….people please do your homework before you start spouting off shit you really know nothing about….

Written By Lee Ralph on March 20th, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

MAN!!! This is horrible! I am a huge MIKE23 fan and I remember when the zip up crackle print hoodie sold out! I emailed the contacts provided to request a second run.

At least i got one. (Thanks “Wish” Atlanta)

last summer at “The Attic” (Los Angeles) all I had to besides see it was pick up my size 7 3/8 new era cap. $75 didn’t scare me away from my need to rock this hat.

As for the quality of his product… I love my mike23 hoodie. I wear it more than I like, knowing you may never see it again in your lifetime and it’s still fresh to death! My new era is just the same as all of my other 109. Great New Era quality.

I wish the best for MIKE23/Scott Nelson I hope the both of them can turn this situation into a good business opportunity.

if not may the black market flourish with MIKE23 hoodies!!!

Written By djlazyboy on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:16 pm
Written By djlazyboy on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

So here’s the deal and no offense to anyone who has spoke their mind on here before or after me.

I dealt with Nike and they fucking suck!!!!!
I dealt with Scott a bit too…..he was way too cocky for his own good when he was launching the brand.

The sad part about this is that Nike WILL WIN….
Mike23 will fade

and people will still buy any and everything they continue to produce….

What do they do for us … the consumer….just force feed this image of YOU MUST HAVE THIS NOW OR YOUR NOT GOING TO BE COOL over and over and over again…

Quickstrike this and don’t forget my balls fuckers!

I used to be soo loyal to Nike, I would skip eating at times to wait til the next drop..

For most of the people will never understand this, but having dealt with them……they’re a pack of wolves that just does what it wants. ….

FUCK NIKE and everything else they’ve bought up…..
Mike23…..I never really cared and never lost sleep over … but good idea and they wanted to see if you’de survive or not and you were which they didn’t like anymore…

Get over it, they’ll win and you won’t
Move On…come back wearing the 45 it ain’t to play games witchu it’s t aim atchu.
Game Over

Written By FTC Soledier on March 20th, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

you know,mike23 stole from nike
everyone knows it,its really obvious.
nobody will stop wearing nikes,dont think that for a second.
nobody cares.
..if youre honest and real and original from day one,these things wouldnt happen.

Written By SPANG on March 21st, 2008 @ 12:39 am

Since it’s looking like this is close to running its course, I just want to say thanks to all for the comments — the smart observations, even from opposing points of view, way outweigh the occasional invective, and that’s great. There are a LOT of really good points made above, on all sides. Thanks!

Written By Rob Walker on March 21st, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

Finally! To me, there is, or was, nothing original about Mike. The name, the number 23, the crackle pattern etc. was just a straight copy. I never saw anything compelling about that at all. I am happy that Nike finally shut that down. This is a win for originality.

Written By Clive Pike on March 21st, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

This SUCKS. I love Mike23 and wear as much of their stuff as I can afford. I hope they don’t stop.

Written By Mike on March 25th, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

This guy was a biter and his brand was a joke. Nothing original about it at all. The Jumpman-style logo he uses is a silhouette of a Nike promo photo of MJ circulated around the time of the Jordan VIs.

If not for the hard work and originality of Nike and MJ, there would be no market for Mike 23. Nelson was a coat tail rider and brought nothing new to the table. His products were one step removed from bootlegging. Maybe he should work on new black Bart Simpson t-shirts or novel colors for the “see-thru” AFI’s you can get on Canal Street. Hey, it’s just a tribute!

Some commenters have suggested that Nike should collaborate with Nelson. Why not collaborate with a Xerox machine? The results would be the same.

Written By Stay Chisel on March 25th, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

What I find most interesting about this is the Nike SB (skateboarding division) had no qualms about using the image of the band Minor Threat to promote one of their marketing efforts.

As with many who have already posted, I’m not sure why Nike has waited so long and would taint their image with this suit. The people into Mike 23 are into Nike. Bagging on Mike 23 might turn off more than a few people to the Nike brand. Then again, I don’t think it’ll really hurt Nike’s sales, so what do they care?

Written By Bill Byrne on March 30th, 2008 @ 2:37 am

[I’m coming a bit late to the table, I admit. Apologies!]

I do think that’s weird; not that they may have “waited two years” to suddenly notice something that had been written about in the paper of record, but rather that they switched up their traditionally permissive policy toward trademark and copyright infringment at all. (I detail this in my book Unmarketable so I won’t go into it here.)

Is it a switch in Nike’s posture as hip underground-friendly icon to an acknowledgment that they are in fact a massive player in an increasingly small game, made smaller by their own expansive growth? I mean, they kind of may the fuck as well now, right? Because who’s going to stop them?

My concerns of course being—as they’ve always been—that all that mindspace Nike’s given away for free will now be recolonized. Here we go.

Written By anne elizabeth moore on April 1st, 2008 @ 11:55 am

When this guy started mike he stole most his designs from someone else,then his big ego took over and he started telling everyone that the crackle print hoodies and hats,lv print etc were his idea.And these were the designs that made his company famous.Justice has finally caught up with this liar,and it’s about time.

Written By steve on April 2nd, 2008 @ 12:34 am

man switch everything up… FUCK NIKE BRAND! do that shit… FUCK SBS! NIKE is A FUCKIN’ MONSTER! JORDANS ARE OUT! aint nobody need to pay homage to nike. yall need to start a movement! just start a whole new LINE! GAY GEAR. with a nike font. and gay colors.

Written By y0 BEE on April 2nd, 2008 @ 7:30 pm