The “YZY” in YZY SOCK SHOES likely immediately brings Kanye West to mind for most because of West’s well-known Yeezy brand. But in case you do not know who Kanye West is, a bit of background: West is a well-known rapper, fashion designer and entrepreneur. West has been involved in the fashion industry for many years and his Yeezy brand is arguably one of the most popular brands in the world. West’s Yeezy brand has been in the headlines often, most recently in connection with the also popular brand Adidas. Yeezy had a partnership with Adidas for several years, but Adidas cut ties in October 2022 citing antisemitic comments made by West. Adidas was then faced with the question of what to do with the remaining Yeezy inventory and, in May 2023, Adidas announced plans to sell off its remaining Yeezy inventory and donate some proceeds to charity.
Not long before Adidas announced its plans, Kanye West (through his company Mascotte Holdings, Inc.) filed a trademark application for YZY SOCK SHOES. My first thought was I wonder if a trademark examiner will find the mark to be merely descriptive (essentially, find that the mark simply describes the goods) and refuse registration.
Another thought / question I have: What are YZY SOCK SHOES?
The trademark application that West filed for YZY SOCK SHOES is an “intent to use” application, meaning West has an intent to use the trademark in the future but may not yet be doing so. So, the application does not yet include information showing how the trademark is being used. However, the goods and services description of West’s trademark application is “Socks; socks with leather soles” so it seems YZY SOCK SHOES may be exactly what they sound like. It’s also worth noting that West has been seen as early as 2019 and as recently as 2023 in several photos arguably wearing “YZY SOCK SHOES” – socks that look like shoes (or shoes that look like socks?) – in lengths ranging from ankle length to knee length.
The natural next question is: Ok, so what’s next?
This trademark application has sparked a lot of speculation about what West is planning for the future of his footwear line. It is not uncommon for companies / brands to file trademark applications based on the possibility of releasing a product or service, and then not release the product or service or otherwise choose not move forward with a trademark application for a variety of other reasons. A common reason that companies do not move forward with trademark applications is later realizing that their trademark is confusingly similar to another trademark. When someone applies for a trademark that is confusingly similar to another trademark application or registration, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) generally refuses registration of the later filed trademark.
As an example that it is not uncommon for companies to file trademark applications then choose not to move forward: as of May 30, 2023 (and according to information available in the USPTO database on that date), West had filed for almost 600 trademark applications – eight were active registrations, about 150 were pending, a handful were cancelled (that is, they were registered and later cancelled, due to issues with or failure to file renewal documents) and the rest appeared to be abandoned.
It is still too early to say what the future holds for YZY SOCK SHOES. However, the fact that Kanye West has not only been spotted wearing what are arguably YZY SOCK SHOES but has also filed a trademark application for them could suggest that he is serious about this new product. But only time will tell, though it would be interesting to see how YZY SOCK SHOES are received by consumers if they are released.
Written by Shakera Thompson, Esq, Founder, Principal Attorney, TKA Law Firm® | Trademarks and Business Strategy