Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Nike copyright blog

Media Groups Challenge 9th Circuit Ruling in Nike Copyright Infringement Suit

As reported by Law360, the American Society of Media Photographers and the National Press Photographers Association have joined forces to file a 25-page amicus brief in support of photographer Jacobus Rentmeester, who Lieff Cabraser represents in a suit claiming that Nike Inc. violated copyright law by improperly using his famous 1984 image of Michael Jordan for its “Jumpman” logo.

The suit was originally filed in 2014, and alleged that Nike paid $15,000 in 1985 to use his iconic photo for two years and only in certain situations. As detailed in the lawsuit, Renmeester notes the sports apparel giant continued to use his photo image as a logo and in ongoing worldwide marketing campaigns. In 2015, a district judge dismissed the case, ruling the logo did not resemble the photo enough to constitute copyright infringement. In late 2015, Rentmeester appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit.

The American Society of Media Photographers and the National Press Photographers Association now stand with Rentmeester in arguing that Nike’s use of the photo does violate copyright law, and in challenging the Ninth Circuit ruling.

“Leaving this area of law jumbled and confused with conflicting opinions would chill the creation of new works and give the green light to infringers the world over,” the photography groups said in their amicus brief. “These creators need clarity.”

Read the full article here on Law360’s site (subscription).