Nike, Huge IP Proponent, Blatantly Infringes Shawne Merriman's Trademark

from the live-by-IP-law,-die-by-IP-law dept

Let's lay out a couple of things we know. First, trademark is one of the better IP laws out there, ostensibly designed to limit customer confusion between brands (though it's still open to significant abuse). We also know that Nike, maker of all things apparel, firmly believes in the strongest of protections against anyone infringing on any of their intellectual property. We also know that Nike firmly believes that limits on copying sure as hell don't apply to Nike.

But I'm not sure we knew just how brazen they could be. Such appears to be the case when Nike decides to just blatantly use someone else's trademark of which they were absolutely aware.

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman is suing athletic equipment giant Nike in San Diego federal court, alleging unfair competition and trademark infringement of his "Lights Out" brand. The suit, filed by Merriman's company, Lights Out Holdings, LLC, demands immediate injunctive relief to stop Nike's alleged actions, plus millions of dollars in damages. Merriman said he holds the federal trademark for the "Lights Out" brand on a Nike clothing line, which includes a broad range of apparel for men, women and children.
We deal a lot with frivolous trademark threats and suits that never appear to amount to much of the customer confusion the law is supposed to address, but this doesn't appear to be one of those cases. We're dealing with Nike using the mark, which Merriman holds, on similar sports apparel and clothes. Merriman is a sports figure whose company produces a clothing line. What makes this most egregious is that Nike was quite aware of the mark.
In late 2006 or 2007, according to the lawsuit, Nike entered into negotiations with Merriman for a "Lights Out" line of apparel. Negotiations between Merriman and Nike were unsuccessful but "after these discussions Nike decided to use the `Lights Out' clothing brand anyway," the suit alleges.
How nice of them. I'm sure they would look quite kindly on anyone who decided to just appropriate their infamous swoosh. Hypocrisy, thy name is Nike.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Mark1 (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 7:33pm

    Nike lawyers

    I live in Portland Oregon and know one of their attorneys. His job is leasing store space for Nike outlets but there is an army of lawyers at Nike. Nike would not be suing unless they thought they had a chance of success.
    The post you wrote sounds like a pretty open and shut case but, there is probably a lot more going on than what we know right now.
    I would expect to hear a lot more about the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    justok (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 7:43pm


    Just sue it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Lurker Keith, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Nike lawyers

    Nike would not be suing unless...

    Nike is the Defendant. Nike isn't the one suing, they're the one being sued for using someone else's Trademark, knowingly, w/o permission.

    This is an open & shut case, the question is how much will Nike be paying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Rapnel (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Nike lawyers


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    AMusingFool (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 9:18pm

    Let's hope the coda isn't:

    Victory, thy name is Nike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Apr 18th, 2014 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Nike lawyers

    the proper term, is 'swooshtika'...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Apr 18th, 2014 @ 5:43am

    Re: Let's hope the coda isn't:

    on a wing and a payer (sic) ? ? ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2014 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: Nike lawyers

    Trademark infringement often results little to no financial gain for the plaintiff. The primary goal of trademark suits is to stop the infringement. Where financial penalties can get significant is when someone loses a trademark case and then continues to infringe. Courts take a very dim view of such things, and penalize accordingly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Lurker Keith, Apr 18th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Nike lawyers

    Uh, that'd be why there's a question about how much they'll be paying... DUH!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Sambo, Apr 20th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Not sure why anybody finds this in the least bit surprising.

    Blatant trademark ripping is their heritage.

    Even the swoosh is not original anyway.

    Were the first NIKE's not just onitsuka tiger's imported from Japan with parts of the labels peeled off to make the swoosh anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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