Judge Stops Nike on Its Tracks
Yesterday a federal court judge in North Carolina stopped #Nike Inc. from using the slogan SPORT CHANGES EVERYTHING in their recent ad campaign. The judge considered the slogan infringes with previously registered trademarks RUNNING CHANGES EVERYTHING and CHANGE EVERYTHING, both owned by plaintiff Fleet Feet, Inc., a smaller manufacturer of footwear.
The judge considered the continued use of Nike’s slogan may cause irreparable damage to Fleet Feet while Nike’s harm is uncertain for not using it while the injunction is in effect. This is part of the balance of hardships courts make when deciding whether to grant injunctions. The court also foresaw confusion can result in the consumers as to the source of the products.
The record does not show whether Nike ran a trademark search to clear the slogan from with potential conflicts and the judge inferred Nike had already worked very closely with Fleet Feet in the past and should have been aware of their trademark rights.
Never underestimate the importance of a #trademark search before you start using a mark!