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.


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  1. icon
    Mark1 (profile), 17 Apr 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.

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