TonyV3112 /
8 October 2014Trademarks

Nike defeats US store’s ‘legends’ claim

A US judge has dismissed claims that sportswear brand Nike infringed trademarks belonging to a baseball-themed store in New York state.

The store, Legends are Forever, claimed Nike infringed its trademark through an advertising campaign that featured basketball star Kobe Bryant.

Nike’s advert, released in 2011, formed part of the ‘Black Mamba’ campaign to promote a Kobe Bryant-themed line of sports clothes.

In the advert, a voice uses the phrase ‘Heroes come and go’ before Bryant interrupts the advert by finishing ‘legends are forever.’

Legends are Forever claimed it would cause confusion and filed claims for trademark infringement and dilution.

But, in a summary judgement handed down at the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, judge Lawrence Kahn said chances of confusion were “marginal” and granted Nike’s requests to dismiss the claims.

Based in Cooperstown, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the store said it registered its Legends are Forever trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2009 and that it has sold baseball apparel and memorabilia since 2001.

However, Kahn said that as the store did not plan to expand its reach, chances of consumers confusing it with Nike’s campaign were unlikely.

“There is no evidence that the plaintiff will expand its business to include celebrity-themed basketball shoes and apparel like the Kobe Bryant line at issue, nor is there evidence to assume plaintiff is seeking to grow its business to compete for defendant’s large consumer base,” he said.

He added: “It is inconceivable that a rational factfinder could conclude that Nike designed a Kobe Bryant sponsored t-shirt in order to sow confusion between its product and that of a baseball memorabilia store in Cooperstown.”

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