A Mississippi businessman is suing the shoe company after he says the company’s design of a duck costume is “a clear violation of the United States’ trademark and copyright laws.”
In a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Mississippi, Jordan Belfair claims Nike “made a clear and present threat to the plaintiff’s trademark rights and intellectual property rights,” according to a press release from the Mississippi attorney general’s office.
“Nike is violating its duty to protect its trade mark and its copyrights,” said attorney John Boggs.
“This lawsuit is an opportunity for the company to defend itself.”
In addition to claiming Belfair’s dress is “not a design of any of its own but a copy of a design by the plaintiff,” Nike is asking the court to award damages of $50,000 and an injunction preventing Belfair from using the suit as a defense.
The lawsuit was filed against Nike by Belfair, a member of the Jackson-based Jackson, Mississippi-based First Mississippi Country Club, the company said.
Nike, a privately held company, sells more than 5 million athletic shoes each year and owns more than 4 million marks and designs across its global network of more than 400 retail locations.
It has long sought to protect the rights of the U.K. based design studio Dymaxion, which is also owned by the company.
The company has long claimed that its designs are not infringing on trademarks and copyright.
Nikes chief executive officer Stephen Ives told reporters in January that the company “has no plans to sue anyone, including our employees,” adding that the lawsuit was “basically just an attempt to get our trademark.”
Belfair’s suit claims that Nike “has been aware of the plaintiff and its designs for over 30 years” and has not made any attempt to stop its designs from being used.
It also contends that Belfair has failed to make an application to register the design.
The suit seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees, and seeks an injunction barring Belfair “from using or attempting to use the plaintiff mark or trademark in any manner, in perpetuity, without permission from the plaintiff or from DymAXion, unless and until the plaintiff files a claim with the United Kingdom Trademark Office and is successful.”