Under Armour vs. Nike – Trademark Infringement

About a year ago, in February of 2013, Under Armour brought Nike to court to sue them for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act. Under Armour is seeking equity from Nike for allegedly infringing on Under Armour’s famous “I WILL” campaign used in various markets such as product lines consisting of apparel, footwear, gear, and accessories, also used with services, events, and marketing campaigns throughout digital media. Under Armour (UA) argues that Nike was fully aware of UA’s “I WILL” campaign that was trademarked in November 2000, but started their similar campaign anyway. Nike’s use of the “I WILL” slogan dilutes the distinctiveness of UA’s famous mark and therefore causes confusion for consumers and creates unfair competition.

“UA’s earliest filing/registration date for “I WILL” (which, according to the complaint is “registered and incontestable”) was back in November of 2000 and it simply covered “articles of clothing for men, women and children, namely shirts, hats in Class 25″ (which is a trademark category that covers clothing, headgear and footwear).”(2) As recent as May 2012 UA now owns several registered trademarks that cover all of the above as well as mobile and online store services that feature their goods. “The I WILL mark has also appeared on gift cards, on and in retail stores and displays, and in advertising and other materials, such as billboards, stadium signage and displays, Internet banner ads, and the homepage of Under Armour’s website at ua.com.” (3) These numerous trademarks are an example of Under Armour’s extensive use of their trademark tagline “I WILL” and how prominent it is in their business efforts. Consumers and followers of such popular sporting goods companies such as these should be able to distinct the two by their popular taglines Under Armour’s “I WILL” and Nike’s “JUST DO IT.” Even though these two companies seem to have equivalent business method in my eyes (a not so familiar consumer), Nike takes a rather large precedence over Under Armour, being that in 2012 Nike earner $25 billion dollars over UA’s $1.8 billion. The difference in capital is one of the main reasons UA is fighting to keep the confusion and dilution of their trademark non-existent.

This case is still open, and a decision has not yet been made. Under Armour is asking for a juried court, for the public to become aware of this issue, and wants Nike to ultimately get rid and dispose of any sort of campaign material, all products and services. Basically asking for the defendant to destroy any confusing material in relation to UA’s “I WILL” trademark. The CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank said that the company is the “scrappy underdog to Nike,” and in my opinion I completely agree. Nine times out of ten I will probably buy a Nike product over Under Armour, but that’s my consumer opinion. I’d admit that I’m more into brands and I believe Nike has a stronger brand than Under Armour, and I also prefer their clothing design over UA’s.  As I read Under Armour’s complaint, written out to the District Court of Maryland, I tend to agree with Under Armour and hope that they are ruled in favor of trademark infringement simple because I agree with the fact that they are the underdog to Nike. The amount of capital that Nike earned in 2012 over Under Armour is one simple fact that Nike already has a strong enough campaign (JUST DO IT). They don’t need to step all over the toes of Under Armour to pass them in the sporting goods market because they’re already so far ahead. Unfortunately I don’t think Under Armour will win this case because most of their trademarks were filed in 2012 and haven’t been officially registered yet. Trademark filing #85628236 falls under Class 35 (Advertising, Business, and Retail Services) but only focuses on retail services both online and offline, therefore raising question that their trademark does not cover advertising campaigns. Under Armour argues about Nike’s use of “I WILL” on their home page, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. These are a few issues I’ve noticed with Under Armour’s complaint, but in the end I don’t think one campaign is considered a big deal to Nike. I think they will settle in court with an agreement to destroy the campaign and will build a new one because Nike can afford to and Under Armour cannot.

 

Work Cited

(1) Burke, Monte. “Under Armour Files Lawsuit Against Nike For Trademark Infringement.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/monteburke/2013/02/21/under-armour-files-lawsuit-against-nike-for-trademark-infringement/>.

(2) Kendrick, Adrienne. “Under Armour Sues Nike Over Use of “I Will” – IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law.” IPWatchdogcom Patents Patent Law Under Armour Sues Nike Over Use of I Will Comments. IPwatchdog, Inc., 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/02/27/under-armour-sues-nike-over-use-of-i-will/id=36115/>.

(3) Rettew, Douglas A. . “IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE DIVISION.” Under Armour, Inc. vs. Nike, Inc. . Under Armour, Inc., 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://blogs-images.forbes.com/monteburke/files/2013/02/Under-Armour-Nike-Complaint-pdf.pdf>.

Megan

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