KANYE WEST’s long-running feud with Nike might be headed in a legal direction, following the release of the musician’s latest single Facts – the lyrics of which are alleged to be libellous. In the track, released on New Year’s Eve, West states that, “Nike out here bad, they can’t give shit away,” and “Nike, Nike treats employees like slaves.”
While he has been vocal in his criticism of the brand in the past, everything up until now has constituted as West’s opinion, which cannot be considered an “actionable statement”, therefore he has not put himself in a position to be sued. As the lyrics to Facts have been made public online, therefore “published to a third party” and Nike could feasibly argue that the statements are damaging, Nike has a case for libel, according to The Fashion Law.
The history of the situation stretches back to 2013 when West ended his footwear collaboration with Nike and embarked on a new one with the sportswear company’s rival Adidas, recreating what became one of the most sought-after silhouettes of late 2015, the Yeezy, which was awarded the Shoe of the Year accolade by Footwear News.
But the bad blood between West and Nike is more recent. When he parted ways with Nike, the star was full of praise for the sportswear brand and gave practical reasons for his defection.
“The old me, without a daughter, would have taken the Nike deal because I just love Nikes so much,” he said at the time. “But the new me, with a daughter, takes the Adidas deal because I have royalties and I have to provide for my family.”
For now, Nike is in a position to “want injunctive relief, aka it would be seeking a court order that West either cease sales of the song or edit it or the like,” according to The Fashion Law.