Vans asked a federal judge Thursday to hold MSCHF in contempt of court, arguing that the Brooklyn design studio had “willfully” violated a restraining order by continuing to sell Tyga‘s “Wavy Baby” sneakers.
Two weeks after Judge William Kuntz ruled that Tyga’s sneakers likely violated Vans’ trademarks and banned MSCHF from selling any more of the them, Vans told the judge that the company had “intentionally and repeatedly flouted the authority of the court” by continuing to fulfill orders. Vans cited three examples, including one from Wednesday.
“The shipments were not irreversible orders picked up shortly after the injunction issued; they were made almost two weeks after the court’s unambiguous order that no such shipments be made,” Vans wrote. “MSCHF should be held in contempt for failing to comply with the Court’s unequivocal instructions.”
If MSCHF is held in contempt, Judge Kuntz could order the company to pay monetary penalties. Vans cited an earlier case in which a company was fined $25,000 upfront and $10,000 per day for such a breach. The judge ordered the company to file a response by May 20.
Tyga announced the Wavy Baby in an April 6 post on Instagram, sparking plenty of buzz but also immediate comparisons to Vans. Footwear News said the shoe “appears to be loosely based on the classic Vans Old Skool” that had been altered with a “wave-like aesthetic.” The site HighSnobiety went bolder: “MSCHF & Tyga’s Insane Skate Shoes Look Like Liquified Vans.”
Three days before the shoes were set to drop on April 18, Vans filed a lawsuit calling MSCHF’s sneakers “blatant trademark infringement” and demanding an immediate restraining order. MSCHF argued back that the Wavy Baby – a surreal, warped version of the Old Skool – was an art project, designed to critique the “consumerism inherent in sneakerhead culture.”
But on April 29, Judge Kuntz issued a temporary restraining order blocking any further sales of the shoe. He ruled that consumers were likely to mistakenly think that Vans had been involved in the project. Crucially, he said that Wavy Baby was far more like a competing shoe brand than some kind of art installation.
“Despite defendant’s assertions the Wavy Baby shoes belong in museums and galleries for exhibition, the production of 4,306 pairs of shoes places the Wavy Baby shoes on a mobile footing vastly different from one found at the Brooklyn Museum,” the judge wrote.
MSCHF has already formally moved to appeal the ruling. Briefing in the appeal will take place in the months ahead.
In a statement to Billboard, MSCHF lead counsel David H. Bernstein of the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP said Thursday’s motion was “utterly without merit.”
“MSCHF has complied, is complying, and will continue to comply with all court orders,” Bernstein said. “Vans’ request is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract from MSCHF’s pending appeal.”
Read the full motion here: