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Nike seeks dismissal of Jumpman infringement suit

Nike files to dismiss copyright infringement suit over Michael Jordan image

In January, Jacobus Rentmeester filed a lawsuit against Nike, alleging that the sneaker company had infringed on his copyright with its use of the Jumpman logo on Air Jordan sneakers. Now, Nike has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, hoping to avoid revealing specifics of its business plan.

Rentmeester took photos of basketball legend Michael Jordan for a piece in Life magazine in 1984. The images were highly stylized and required Jordan to pose in ways that are not natural to his basketball style. Rentmeester claims that Nike took his images, altered them and used them for promotional materials for Air Jordan sneakers, a brand that has earned Nike billions of dollars in revenue. Nike and Rentmeester reached a licensing agreement in 1985, but now the photographer claims that the “Jumpman” logo infringes in his intellectual property.

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But now, Nike has fired back, filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Nike acknowledges that it paid Rentmeester for use of the image initially but contends that the Jumpman logo is distinct enough from Rentmeester’s image and that the suit is baseless.

"Rentmeester falls far short of that standard here given the significant — and self-evident —differences in mood, lighting, setting, expression, color, style and overall look and feel of his photograph, on the one hand, and Nike's photograph and logo on the other," Nike stated in court documents.

Nike wants the court to decide on the dismissal immediately so as to avoid engaging in the discovery process.

Senior Editor and Community Manager

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor and Community Manager of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A....

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