UK company sues Nike for trademark infringement and wins

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In July, UK micro business Frank Industries Ltd (“Frank”) successfully enforced its trademark ‘LNDR’ in a legal battle against Nike, who used ‘LDNR’ in its ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ campaign featuring Sir Mo Farah.

Frank had existing trademarks for LNDR in both the UK and the EU for its clothing products, including sportswear. Frank’s representative stated that the company had a growing reputation as a premium brand, and this could not be damaged by the likes of Nike.

Following proceedings in the High Court, it was held that an injunction should be granted against Nike due to the strong likelihood of confusion between the company’s brand ‘LNDR’ and Nike’s new campaign ‘LDNR’. The Judge concluded that “the average consumer would misread or misspeak one for the other from time to time”.

Although Nike argued that people were likely to see the phrase as meaning ‘Londoner’ and that its signature ‘swoosh’ Nike tick logo would be obvious, Frank confirmed the clear confusion with the evidence of witnesses who thought that the micro company had collaborated with Nike.

The founder of LNDR, Joanna Turner, stated that she had “no choice” but to go up against Nike in order to protect her brand.  She now looks to further the business and push the brand globally in light of this recent win.

The dispute took less than 7 months from the initial advertising campaign to the judgement. This was down to the streamlined procedure adopted by the IP Enterprise Court (“IPEC”).   IPEC’s fast track procedure offers a faster and more affordable Court forum in which SMEs can litigate and win against much larger and wealthier opponents.