Michael Jordan upside down?

Nike seems to think so  Being a bit of a fitness geek, stories like this pique my interest.  

Can a one-arm handstand ever be mistaken for a basketball slam-dunk? Nike says yes, and the global sneaker maker is suing CrossFit CityPlace in West Palm Beach over CrossFit’s one-arm handstand logo.

The shoe, apparel and merchandising conglomerate says the upside down image of a man balanced on a kettle bell is too similar to its signature “jump-man,” logo, a depiction of basketball great Michael Jordan.

Readers can click on the link and see the two logos for themselves.  Seeing as patents and trademarks are not my specialty, I have no way of knowing which side of this wins.  Personally, I see Michael Jordan, but I also lived in Chicago during the years that the Chicago Bulls won their six titles.  I have to belief the people at Nike saw the same thing.

There was also this:

“They’re trying to bully the little guy because they’ve got more money,” said [Matt] Brewster of Wellington. “They’re trying to scare us, but we’re not going to be scared.”

I’d have a little more sympathy for Brewster if it wasn’t for the fact that CrossFit, Inc., the corporate entity, is notoriously litigious when it comes to protecting both its trademarks and reputation (sometimes going a bit way too far).  Jumpman is one of Nike’s most valuable trademarks so I would expect it to respond aggressively, just as CrossFit, Inc. responds to possible trademark violations against its own brand.  I don’t understand why this surprises anyone.


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8 thoughts on “Michael Jordan upside down?

  1. I’d like to joke that it must be a slow day at the Nike legal department, but the logo really does bear a strong resemblance to the Nike/Jordan logo, just rotated. Even the off-arm is in about the same position. That’s not to imply any intention on the part of CrossFit, just that even if inadvertently they came too close, imo.


  2. IANAL, but I know some vague things about the spirit of trademark law. The critical question that must be answered is whether it could conceivably be confusing to customers. And this includes not only loyal customers, but also those who might only be vaguely aware with the logos. Could someone look at the Crossfit logo and mistakenly think Nike has some association with it? I think the answer is yes. It could be confusing. Crossfit should stop using it.


  3. It’s incredibly not similar and I have a hard time believing Nike would prevail if it came to court. Of course, outcomes (from what I’ve seen tend) to be pretty unpredictable even when the facts of the case seem obvious either way. (obvious disclaimer – IANAL).
    Certainly I have seen things with significantly more similar logos pass than this.

    Of course, I am biased in that I find trademarks to be dramatically overbroad and fundamentally flawed. Would you suggest that Nike should essentially own all silhouetted images of jumping persons with legs kicked?


    • Huh, I’d think Crossfit would get their butt handed to them, not only because to me it is *extremely* similar, but both companies are in the fitness business, causing concern over possible consumer confusion.

      But if you’re right, I can go ahead and open my new fast-food restaurant, WacDonald’s. My logo will be a large, curved, yellow “W”.

      Like inverted arches.


      • I’ve told this story before, but when I was living in Frankfurt I kept seeing pizza delivery cars with the Domino’s logo/colors, but they said “Romino’s”.

        I asked my German friend about them and he said they had originally just been “Domino’s”, but completely unaffiliated with the American company (they just straight-up ripped off the logo design and name).

        After (US) Domino’s came after them legally (I think they were planning or had already expanded into operations there?), they changed the ‘D’ to an ‘R’, and kept on truckin’.


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