from the nike-picks-up-the-RIAA-strategy dept
However, one customer, a Mr. E. Bateman, thought this was ridiculous, and fought it. He pointed out that he simply thought he was buying legitimate Nikes, and it seems rather ridiculous to then be sued for it. The judge noted that, under UK trademark law, the buyer's intent is absolutely meaningless:
"Whether or not the defendant believed the goods were authentic is irrelevant to the question of trade mark infringement. Whether the goods are infringing goods or counterfeit goods is an objective question. The Defendant's state of mind does not matter. Equally the Defendant's state of mind is irrelavant to the question of importation."In other words, don't ever buy Nike shoes, or you might get sued.
Of course, all this makes you wonder: what the hell was Nike thinking? We've seen how suing customers backfired badly for the RIAA and others, but this goes even beyond that. Here's a case where a guy appeared to believe he had just bought legitimate shoes, and Nike's response is to sue him, take him to court, and then win its lawsuit against him. The judge did point out that he "questioned whether the sledge hammer of these proceedings is necessary in order to crack this nut of this magnitude," and even then Nike pushed forward, claiming that the companies has "no realistic alternative to enforcing their rights this way."
Um. Sure they do: the alternative is not suing their customer. That said, at least the judge did not make Mr. Bateman pay any fine or award to Nike (even though Nike did ask for money), but rather, he has to promise not to infringe in the future, allow the shoes (still held by UK customs) to be destroyed and provide the details of where he bought the shoes. Of course, the only way he can make sure not to infringe in such a manner again is to never buy Nike shoes again, since he has no way of knowing beforehand if they're infringing or not. Nice work Nike.