Walmart goes after Kanye West’s Yeezy brand for ‘lookalike’ logo

The retail behemoth says Yeezy’s pending logo could cause confusion and “dilution” of its brand.

Pittsburgh, USA    March 4, 2021
Walmart store in Richland Township north of Pittsburgh
bgwalker/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

Kanye West’s Yeezy line filed a trademark application for registration for a stylized sun rays graphic earlier this year, reported The Fashion Law. The logo, consisting of “eight dotted lines, each comprising three totally shaded circles, with a total of 24 circles, arranged at equal angles as rays from a sun,” was meant to be used on clothing, retail store services, musical sound recordings and streaming, hotel services, and the construction of “non-metal modular homes,” among other oddities created by Yeezy. But now, TFL reports, Walmart is arguing that the Yeezy graphic looks too similar to the one it has been using on its own goods for over a decade.

The complaint comes nearly four months after Yeezy LLC filed its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Fashion Law states that according to the opposition Walmart initiated with the trademark office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on April 21, Walmart claims that “it will be damaged by registration of [Yeezy] mark,” since it has been using a lookalike mark — “a design of six rays symmetrically centered around a circle” — since at least 2007. Walmart also cited its extensive use of its logo, from its website to commercials, claiming its mark “has become well known and famous as a distinctive indicator of the origin of [its] goods and services and a symbol of [its] goodwill” as a company.

A compilation of complaints — Here, Walmart uses a claim similar to that of Nike’s in its lawsuit against MSCHF and its Satan Shoes, which bore Nike’s recognizable Swoosh. Although Yeezy’s designs aren’t nearly as offensive — depending on who you ask — Walmart doesn’t want to be confused with the brand, nor have consumers think it’s associated in any way. The company even said in its complaint that if Yeezy LLC was permitted to use and register its sun ray trademark, it could “cause damage and injury to [Walmart].”

Walmart’s logo (left) and Yeezy LLC’s pending logo (right).Walmart v. Yeezy LLC

As such a huge chain — supplying consumers with its own clothing lines, accessories, and retail services — Walmart also says Yeezy’s logo would overlap with its own, as the two offer the same, or at least similar, services. TFL notes that Walmart does not claim to be in the business of making or selling “non-metal modular homes,” or offering up hotel services.

And while Walmart cites its size in its complaint, it also nods to Yeezy’s undeniable influence, arguing that beyond causing potential confusion and “deception” about the source of the parties’ respective goods or services, the Yeezy LLC mark “is likely to cause, and will cause, dilution of the distinctive value of” Walmart’s mark, since it is “a distinctive and famous trademark which became famous prior to the filing date of [Yeezy LLC’s] trademark application.” Basically, Walmart made its logo first — and it doesn’t want Yeezy to get in the way.

Walmart has used its logo on everything from packaging to its website. Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Walmart’s “date of first use [for its famous mark] is at least as early as 2007 which precedes [Yeezy LLC’s] filing date of January 3, 2020,” The Fashion Law reports. With these dates in mind, Walmart argues that its opposition should be upheld, and Yeezy LLC’s application should be blocked.

Ye’s too Famous If Walmart’s argument of “we were here first” doesn’t hold up, the company has cited multiple other complaints against Yeezy LLC’s trademark application. Noting Yeezy’s influence again, Walmart says it often partners with celebrities — including West’s ex-sisters-in-law Kylie and Kendall Jenner — or uses notable pop culture references, to promote its goods and services. Yeezy LLC’s new logo would interfere too much with advertising and confuse customers, says Walmart, according to TFL.

There’s no denying Ye’s impact, either — the artist and designer has been able to market even the ugliest and non-functional shoes to hypebeasts and NBA players alike. Even his ex-wife Kim Kardashian still rocks Yeezy shoes.

Kim Kardashian

Looking at the similarities between Walmarts logo and Yeezy LLC’s impending logo says enough, not mentioning the other complaints Walmart has cited against Yeezy’s filing. And with Walmart owning more than 5,000 retail locations, Yeezy LLC is up against a behemoth — making it unclear whether its sun ray logo will ever see the light of day.