Oh snap, Nike!

May 3, 2013

Nike vs underarmourMost of the time, I try to use this column to explore new, illuminating or otherwise worthwhile developments in intellectual property law.

Notice that I said “most of the time.”

Sometimes, I come across stories that are pointless, but so entertaining that I can’t resist.

For example, let’s look at the lawsuit between UnderArmour, your friendly neighborhood bro’s favorite line of sportswear, and Nike, which doesn’t seem to know it was last cool in 1996.

At issue is the phrase “I Will.” UnderArmour launched a media blitz this spring using the phrase, and then a few days after, sued Nike for allegedly infringing on UnderArmour’s trademark.

I thought Nike’s response was priceless.

Nike called the phrase “I Will” a “noun-verb combination” that is “not famous” and said it has not achieved any secondary meaning in connection with UnderArmour.

Relevant to an allegation of trademark infringement? Sure. If consumers do not have a connection between the phrase “I Will” and UnderArmour (which I sure didn’t, for what it’s worth), then it can’t really argue it has much of a claim to the phrase.

Is it also an oh-so-sassy way of stating your argument? Absolutely, and I love it.

For what it’s worth, I found UnderArmour’s retort to be lacking.  Significantly lacking

“We are aware of Nike’s response to our lawsuit. We prefer to battle our competitors in the marketplace, but we must defend our brand when necessary and remain committed to vigorously protecting our ‘I Will’ trademark.”

Is it just me, or is that the wittiness equivalent of an “I know you are, but what am I?” comeback?