Infringement of Under Armour’s “I Will” Trademark: Did Nike “Just Do It?”

Infringement of Under Armour’s “I Will” Trademark: Did Nike “Just Do It?”

The story goes that Nike's "JUST DO IT" mark originated from the 1977 execution of murderer, Gary Gilmore. Gilmore, who was executed by a Utah firing squad, offered as his final words, "Let's do it."

As told in Jonah Lehrer's book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, Gilmore's final words before death were altered just a bit, giving rise to Nike's iconic slogan, "JUST DO IT."

But where did Nike's recent slogan, "I WILL," originate? According to a complaint filed last Thursday, it originated with Under Armour.  

Under Armour claims to have used and promoted the trademark tagline I WILL at least as early as 1998. Late last year, Nike launched an ad campaign that focused on the phrase I WILL.

"On its FACEBOOK page," Under Armour says, "visited by many thousands of consumers, Defendant [Nike] features a series of images ...  each prominently featuring the I WILL trademark/tagline, including one where I WILL is paired with 'PROTECT MY HOME COURT' ...."

"HOME COURT" is accused of being synonymous with "HOUSE," thereby evoking Under Armour's combined use of PROTECT THIS HOUSE and I WILL.

Under Armour points out that Nike has aggressively enforced its rights in "JUST DO IT" to prevent infringement and dilution (e.g., Nike, Inc. v. Circle Group Internet, Inc., 318 F. Supp. 2d 688 (N.D. Ill. 2004 [enhanced version available to subscribers]).

Consequently, Under Armour says, "[d]efendant is well-aware of the source identifying power of taglines such as 'I WILL.'" 


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