The Jordan Jumpman logo is undoubtedly iconic, representing not just Michael Jordan but also a legacy of excellence in athletics. Nike is known for fiercely protecting its intellectual property, especially iconic logos like the Jumpman.
Skiman LLC, a Colorado-based ski apparel brand founded by Stephen Fucik, received multiple cease-and-desist letters from the sportswear giant Nike. The dispute revolves around Skiman’s logo, designed by Fucik to capture the essence of skiing freedom. The logo showcases a skier executing a daffy, a mogul trick where one leg is kicked forward while the other is stretched backward, with the goal of maintaining vertical skis.
Nike alleges that Skiman’s logo bears a “confusingly similar” resemblance to its iconic Jordan Jumpman logo, and therefore, to avoid further legal action, urges Skiman to voluntarily cancel its trademark registration. Fucik, undeterred and asserting his creative ownership, is prepared to defend his logo, claiming that he personally designed it.
This is not the first occasion that the Jordan Jumpman logo has been involved in a legal battle. On 22 January 2015, photographer Jonas Linder sued Nike, claiming copyright infringement over the use of the Jumpman logo. The claim stated that Nike copied a photograph that Linder had granted temporary permission for them to use for its logo. The suit was later dismissed.
The Nike Jordan Jumpman logo is on every AIR JORDAN sneaker. Nike introduced its Jumpman logo in 1987 and trademarked it in 1989. The said trademark was filed claiming FIRST USED on 24 November 1987 and registered on 26 September 1989. The sneakers that bear Michael Jordan’s name and image have helped Nike become one of the leading sportswear brands in the world today.
Comparatively, Skiman successfully trademarked its logo with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in December 2020. The said trademark was filed claiming FIRST USED on 24 April 2020 and registered on 1 December 2020. The mark is described as depicting “a skier performing a maneuver called a daffy.”
Nike did not challenge Skiman’s mark until its logo was approved and after Skiman created an online presence and began selling Skiman LLC merchandise featuring the trademarked DAFFY logo.
Upon reviewing Skiman’s application, though registered, it has a pending Petition for Cancellation by M/s. Aksels, Inc. claiming Skiman’s DAFFY SKIER mark closely resembles Aksels previously used DAFFY SKIER mark. Aksels claims when the mark is used in connection with goods, it causes confusion, mistake, or deception, causing damage to Aksels.
Aksels has been using the mark since 2013 and has filed for Petition for Cancellation against Skiman, whereas Nike which has been using the mark since 1987, has filed for cancellation. The fact Nike hasn’t initiated any steps to file for Petition for Cancellation against Aksels as well as Skiman until now clearly establishes an inexcusable delay in taking action by Nike.
Alternatively, Nike can file suit for trademark infringement and trademark dilution among other violations on the grounds that Nike’s mark is (1) famous and distinctive; (2) Skiman and Aksels are making use of the mark in commerce; (3) Skiman and Aksels’ use began after the mark became famous; and (4) Skiman and Aksels’ use of the mark is likely to cause dilution by blurring.
In conclusion, Nike should be vigilant in taking prompt actions in cases of trademark infringement or passing off to avoid a situation where the defendant may plead the equitable doctrine of laches.
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