4 December 2019TrademarksSaman Javed

TM complaint forces Nike to halt ‘Sport Changes Everything’ campaign

A US court has put Nike’s “Sport Changes Everything” advertising campaign on a temporary hold, following a trademark infringement complaint from a North Carolina-based sports brand.

In a ruling on December 2, the US District Court for the Middle District of Carolina granted a preliminary injunction against Nike, based on a likelihood of confusion with trademarks registered by Fleet Feet.

It said Nike’s campaign, which was launched in July 2019, was likely to swamp Fleet Feet’s trademarks and would lead consumers to wrongly assume there is an affiliation between the two companies.

In a filing yesterday, December 3, Nike appealed the order.

The dispute dates to August, when Fleet Feet sued Nike for trademark infringement. According to the original complaint, Fleet Feet owns two trademarks, ‘Change Everything’ and ‘Running Changes Everything’, which it has previously licensed to third parties.

The trademarks are registered in connection with running and fitness-related goods and services, including footwear, clothing and retail store services.

Fleet Feet said it has “devoted substantial resources to making ‘Change Everything’ and ‘Running Changes Everything’ the cornerstones for its brand”. As a result, these trademarks have developed invaluable goodwill, and the public has come to associate them with the goods and services Fleet Feet and its licensees provide.

It said that “despite this knowledge”, Nike launched a national advertising campaign using the trademarks ‘Sport Changes Everything’ and ‘Running Changes Everything’.

Fleet Feet said the first mark bears a confusing resemblance to its own trademarks, and the second mark is “identical” to its own.

Nike’s use of these infringing marks cannot help but cause confusion, mistake, or deception, the filing said.

In its ruling, the court said Fleet Feet has shown a likelihood of confusion exists, and that Nike is infringing its trademarks.

The court granted a preliminary injunction, adding that Fleet Feet would suffer “irreparable harm” if the campaign was allowed to continue.

It said Nike must remove the phrase ‘Sport Changes Everything’ from its websites, social media pages and its stores.

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