Nike, the United States footwear and clothing behemoth, has recently joined the ranks of mainstream corporations that are considering entering the field of cryptocurrencies, currently spearheaded by the likes of Facebook, Samsung and Starbucks.
A document filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) surfaced online last week, revealing Nike’s intention to launch “cryptokicks” — which appears to be more than just a new line of sneakers.
What are “Cryptokicks”?
The news about Nike’s “cryptokicks” trademark was originally broken by Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney in the U.S. who first described the application via Twitter on April 24. The document itself, in turn, was filed with the USPTO on April 19.
Notably, the corporation’s filing mentions crypto wallets (both software and hardware), “downloadable mobile applications for providing access to crypto collectibles, crypto art and application tokens,” as well as an online marketplace featuring footwear and clothing as potential use cases.
Furthermore, the document also describes plans for “providing a digital currency or digital token for use by members of an online community,” and enabling transactions to be completed using “unconventional currency systems,” which implies that Nike might integrate cryptocurrencies into its burgeoning online marketing — last month, the company reported its digital business brought in more than $1 billion in quarterly sales for the first time, securing a whopping 36% rise from the same period a year ago. That would also fall in line with the company’s chief business strategy, which puts an emphasis on its connection with consumers and features aggressive branding expansion via mobile apps and social media, among other things.
In the application, Nike also explains how it wants to reserve the “cryptokicks” name for providing “online blogs in the field of crypto collectibles” and offering online computer games, such as scavenger hunts, treasure hunts and obstacle courses. Similarly, the U.S. corporation applied for a trademark for "footware," which a mashup of the words "footwear" and "software," earlier last month.
How likely is Nike to release it?
But could it be a mere speculative move to stake a claim in the trademark amid the everlasting crypto hype? Andrew Hinkes, an adjunct professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and NYU School of Law and co-founder of Athena Blockchain, suggests that at least something might be brewing in the Nike’s offices. “This does not mean definitively that anything will be launched anytime soon,” he told Cointelegraph. "However, there needs to be some sort of internal work happening at Nike for Nike to file its application.” According to Hinkes, it is impossible to evaluate the progress at this point just by looking at the application:
“The filer of a federal trademark must have a bona fide intent to use the mark in connection with the goods and services that are listed with the application. Bona fide intent can mean anything from ‘they are looking into it’ to ‘they are well down the path to implementation’ and anything in between.”
According to Gerben, the attorney who initially reported on the filing:
“Nike does not have a history of filings that are speculative."
He described the document’s content as “trademark speak for ‘this is a cryptocurrency called Cryptokicks.’”
When could “cryptokicks” be introduced to the market?
During his analysis of the document, Gerben also explained that the application was made on a “1B” basis, which means Nike has submitted a sworn statement indicating they intend to use the trademark in the near future.
However, Hinkes warns that Nike is unlikely to present any “cryptokicks” product in forthcoming months, as the overall process of securing a trademark is quite time-consuming:
“First, an applicant files their application for federal trademark protection. After filing, the application will be examined by an examiner at the USPTO. That is unlikely to happen for a few months after filing. If the examiner approves the application and finds no existing marks that are likely to cause confusion, and the application has no technical issues, then it will be published for opposition, which is a several-month process. Upon publication, then public then has 30 days to object. This publication with an opportunity for objection will probably not occur for several months, if not a year.”
During that 30-day objection period, those who have preexisting rights to the brand “cryptokicks” could prove that the acceptance of Nike's application for “cryptokicks” as a protected mark would cause consumer confusion and thus damage to their preexisting mark, Hinkes told Cointelegraph.
Notably, in the original Twitter thread, a user pointed out to Gerben that the brand “crypto kicks” has been used by a website selling crypto-themed merch, but the attorney noticed that they were based in the United Kingdom, while Nike is currently applying for a U.S. patent.
Meanwhile, even though “cryptokicks” seem far from being announced and it is currently unclear whether the USPTO will approve Nike’s application at all, some community members are guessing how the footwear giant could implement that concept. Tokenized loyalty points appear to be one of the most popular versions. Redditor u/HODL_monk wrote:
“Nike fans are rabid, and known for tearing through physical stores for rare shoes. It would be crazy / cool to get some branded crypto with every purchase, be able to buy and sell it on exchanges, and be able to redeem (burn) it online for rare Nike merchandise.”
Cointelegraph has reached out to Nike for further comment, but the company has not returned the request as of press time.