Perhaps you've heard of Nike, one of the world's shoe giants? The Nike Cortez, its first line of running shoes, jumped in popularity following being featured in the movie Forrest Gump, a biopic about a friendly, persisting man who at one point wears a pair of Nike Cortez while running across the United States.

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Image source: Forrest Gump



Forrest Gump went on to became a smash hit worldwide. The Cortez also blew up after bringing the lead actor success in the movie. However, few people know the story behind the shoes. In 1963, Phil Knight the founder of Nike, and his mentor Bill Bowerman established a company called Blue Ribbon Sports. They expanded thir business and partnered with an overseas company, became the sole distributor for the Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger (now known as Asics) in United States.

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Image source: Forrest Gump


However, few people know the true story behind the shoes. In 1963, the founder of Nike, Phil Knight and his tutor Bill Bowerman established a company called Blue Ribbon Sports. 

They expanded business and cooperated with an overseas company, became the only distributor for the Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger (now known as Asics) in United States.

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Image source: 腾讯视频


Driven by passion, Blue Ribbon Sports learned to and started manufacturing shoes. They came out with a new model for Onitsuka Tiger called the Mexico 66.

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Image source: 腾讯视频


For the new version of the Onitsuka Tiger TG 24, Blue Ribbon Sports added cushioning material to the sole. The shoes became popular with athletes and in 1967, the company changed the shoes's name to Onitsuka Tiger Aztec

The Onitsuka Tiger Aztec ranked as the best-selling model of Tiger Onitsuka shoes line. However, because "Aztec" was a trademark owned by Adidas, Blue Ribbon Sports was sued and had to change the name of the shoe to the Onitsuka Tiger Cortez.

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Adidas Azteca Gold


As the Onitsuka Tiger Cortez began to generate significant profits for Blue Ribbon Sports, the company ended its partnership with the Japanese company and started a new brand, Nike. Following its founding, the line of running shoes was produced under Nike label.

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Image source: Sohu


In time, Onitsuka Tiger and Nike ended up in a bitter lawsuit over each other's attempts to go separate ways. The suit was over which company would have sole rights for producing the Cortez shoe.  After 3 years of court battles, Nike won the Cortez production rights. Onitsuka Tiger became a part of Asics through a corporate merger went on to change the name of Cortez into Corsair.

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Image source: Forrest Gump


Forrest Gump made Nike Cortez famous around the world, and Nike went on to become the world's largest sneakermaker company. The success of Nike came in part through winning a series of trademarks disputes with several different companies.

Although Onitsuka's parent company, Asics Corp., is current the 5th largest of its kind in the world, very few people know that Onitsuka Tiger is the original designer of  the Cortez. Sadly for them, the company realize too late the importance and value of their intellectual property.

In the battlefield of Intellectual property, Nike and Onitsuka Tiger, which one you prefer to be?

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