Nike Trademarks: Everything You Need to Know (2023)

Nike trademarks are trademarks owned by this leading shoe manufacturer. Companies like Nike use trademarks to protect their brand. 7 min read

Updated June 30, 2020:

What Is a Trademark?

Nike trademarks are trademarks owned by the leading shoe manufacturer. Companies like Nike use trademarks to protect their brand. With a trademark in place, a company can prevent unauthorized use of their intellectual property. Items that can be trademarked include catchphrases, names, figures, lyrics, and symbols.

A standard trademark registration will last for 10 years, and when it is set to expire, you will need to re-register your trademark to secure another 10 years of protection. If you don't regularly use your trademark, you may lose your rights to your mark.

Two Types of Trademarks

There are two different trademarks that are available. The TM symbol is used for common law trademarks, which are trademarks that are in use but have not yet been registered.

The ® symbol is for trademarks that have been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A registered trademark provides much more extensive protections than common law trademarks.

Five Levels of Trademarks Exist

If you're interested in registering a trademark, there are five different trademark levels that you could choose:

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  • Fanciful: A fanciful trademark consists of a word that has no meaning outside of the mark. An example of this would be Kodak.
  • Arbitrary: These trademarks are words that exist in reality, but are not used to describe the actual products of the company. An example of this is Apple, a company that makes computers and other tech products.
  • Suggestive: A suggestive mark is a trademark that implies a connection between a company and a product.
  • Descriptive: A descriptive trademark describes the exact good that the company provides.
  • Generic: These marks are comprised of generic words or phrases such as “computer store.”

Trademark vs. Copyright: What's the Difference?

Copyrights and trademarks are legal protections for different types of intellectual property. You may be entitled to compensation if someone uses your copyright or trademark without obtaining your permission. If you've read a book, visited a website, or purchased a product, it's likely you've seen either the TM or © symbol.

What Is a Copyright?

Copyrights are slightly easier to understand than trademarks. You can copyright any type of original content or intellectual property that you have created.

Types of intellectual property that can be protected by copyrights include:

  • Architectural plans
  • Paintings
  • Screenplays
  • Songs
  • Stories

When you copyright a piece of intellectual property, the work of art, not its subject matter, will be protected. For example, if two novels cover the same subject, their copyrights will not be violated if the writing style, length, and approach of the novels are different. While copyrights don't need to be registered, they won't last in perpetuity.

A copyright will last for the entire life of the artwork's creator, plus 70 years after their death. Once your work of art is published, it will be protected by copyright law. Once the 70-year post-death period has ended, the work of art becomes part of the public domain and can be used by anyone.

Ideas Can't Be Protected

Because ideas are so ubiquitous, they cannot be protected by any form of intellectual property law. However, you can use a trademark to protect the name of your idea as long as you put the idea to use. You can also protect a story, but not the subject matter that it covers.

The only way to protect an idea is by applying for a patent. However, there must be a plan in place to use your idea before a patent will be granted.

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Nike and Its Trademarks

Nike holds several trademarks, including their famous swoosh symbol and the phrase “just do it.” Essentially, Nike has a trademark on its name, slogan, and symbol. If the company had failed to trademark any of these items, they could be used in another company's marketing.

NIKE vs. Nike

When referring to the actual Nike company, you would write NIKE, Inc. Use Nike, without the capitalization, when making reference to the brand.

Affiliate Brands

The correct way to reference one of Nike's affiliate brands is Hurley International LLC and Converse Inc.

The “Jumpman” Logo

One of Nike's most famous trademarks is the “Jumpman” logo, a silhouette of former NBA player Michael Jordan. This logo can be found on every Jordan brand sneaker and originated with a Life magazine photograph.

In the summer of 1984, a photographer by the name of Jacobus Rentmeester took a photograph of Jordan in midair as he was about to dunk a basketball. Later on, Rentmeester filed an infringement lawsuit in a district court in Portland, Oregon. According to him, after the photo was published in Life, Nike paid him for the right to temporarily use transparencies of the image for slide presentation only, without any other form of duplication.

Then, Nike came up with its own Jordan image, which was almost identical to Rentmeester's, and began using it in its marketing campaigns. The photographer confronted Nike about its image, saying that it was essentially a reproduction of his original. In response, the sportswear giant paid him $15,000 in order to continue using the image it created. An invoice for the $15,000 was submitted during the legal proceedings. It was specified in the invoice that Nike was only allowed to use its image for two years in North America, with all other rights belonging to Rentmeester.

In 1987, Nike introduced its Jumpman logo, which is a silhouette of the Jordan image it created, and the photographer again said that it was a duplicate of his image. More than 30 years and billions of dollars in sales later, the sportswear company is still using the Jumpman logo, while Rentmeester is asking for a share of the revenue generated through the use of the image. Even a small percentage of the revenue from products bearing the image will be significant. According to SportsOneSource, Jordan sneakers generated over $2.6 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2014.

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The sneakers that bear Michael Jordan's name and image have helped Nike become one of the leading sportswear brands in the world today. Even a short-term injunction that prevents the use of the Jumpman logo will be a major headache for the company. Over the years, the Jumpman logo has become synonymous with Jordan products.

On March 16, Nike filed a motion requesting the court to dismiss the infringement lawsuit, claiming that Rentmeester's allegations were meritless and did not meet the standard for trademark infringement. The company also said that the photographer did not have a monopoly on Michael Jordan, his athletic prowess and appearance, or images of him performing a dunk.

Sneakers With Knit Uppers

Nike and Adidas both launched their first knitted running shoes in 2012. Each of them had spent years developing its own version of the shoes. However, since Nike patented its technology first, it was able to start selling its Flyknit sneakers in February, while Adidas had to wait until July to release its Primeknits. Soon, Nike began accusing Adidas of infringing the patent for its high-tech, one-piece, woven uppers, which it considered industry-changing products and a symbol of its innovative prowess.

After legal battles in Germany concluded in favor of Adidas, the case moved to the U.S. Adidas submitted a petition to the USPTO to dispute the legitimacy of Nike's “footwear with a textile upper” patent. As it did in Europe, it argued that Nike was patenting technology that was already in existence and therefore not patent-worthy. The court eventually agreed with the German sportswear giant. Nonetheless, Nike fought back by filing an appeal in December, claiming that its patent was indeed valid.

A Nike victory will be a big blow to Adidas, which was experiencing shrinking visibility in the U.S. However, Nike's true victory lies in its ability to strengthen its reputation as the leading innovator in the sneaker industry. When it comes to sales, Adidas' Primeknits do not pose a significant threat in the U.S.

Trade Secrets

The dispute between Nike and Adidas became uglier in September 2014 when the German company hired three senior designers away from its rival and began setting up a design office for them in Brooklyn, New York.

In December, Nike sued the three designers for $10 million, accusing them of breaching their noncompete agreements with the company and taking unreleased product designs, marketing plans, and other proprietary secrets to their new employer. According to Nike, its confidential information was in the hands of the individuals, who induced its rival to hire them with the promise to deliver a wealth of information that will provide a competitive advantage.

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The designers attempted to cover up their misdeeds by deleting emails and other data from their Nike-owned computers and phones. Nevertheless, Nike managed to uncover enough information to embarrass its former employees and Adidas. Messages showed that the designers did not actually want to work for Adidas. They had wanted to start their own company. However, since they did not have enough money to do so, jumping ship to Adidas was the next best option.

The lawsuit sought an injunction that required the designers to turn over all the confidential information they held, avoid having any public association with Adidas, and stop designing any footwear. One day after the lawsuit was filed, Nike was granted a temporary restraining order against its former employees.

The designers countersued Nike, claiming that all the company's allegations were false and accusing it of violating their privacy. They also said that Nike's corporate culture was stifling their creativity and many of the designers in the company were not pleased with the culture of intimidation and distrust that existed between the executives and creatives.

As a result of the ugly battle with the three designers, Nike is showing chinks in its armor. While it may not have a significant impact on the company's current market share, it may prove detrimental in the future.

Does Nike Permit Use of Its Trademarks, Logos, Images, or Advertising?

Nike does not permit other parties to use or modify its trademarks, images, logos, advertising, or other such materials. It is your responsibility to find out if your use is legally permissible. For instance, using Nike logos in textbooks may be regarded as fair use in some situations. Nike does not respond to requests for permission or interviews.

If you need help learning more about Nike trademarks, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.


What trademarks does Nike have? ›

Nike holds several trademarks, including their famous swoosh symbol and the phrase “just do it.” Essentially, Nike has a trademark on its name, slogan, and symbol. If the company had failed to trademark any of these items, they could be used in another company's marketing.

What are the 3 types of trademarks? ›

What Is a Trademark and What Are the Types?
  • Arbitrary and Fanciful Trademarks.
  • Suggestive Trademarks.
  • Descriptive Trademarks.

What are the 5 categories of trademarks? ›

Types of trademarks for products include five main categories: generic mark, descriptive mark, suggestive mark, fanciful, and arbitrary mark. A generic trademark actually doesn't qualify for a trademark unless it includes more specific detail.

How many trademarks does Nike own? ›

A competitor could take your branding, and you would have no legal recourse. Nike understands this importance, as they own over 200 trademarks, including dozens of different virtual goods' trademarks.

Is the Nike symbol a trademark? ›

Yes, the Nike Swoosh logo is trademarked. Nike trademarked the iconic swoosh logo in 1972 and currently owns several trademark registrations for it.

What is the strongest trademark? ›

The strongest types of trademarks are (1) fanciful or coined marks, such as EXXON for petroleum products; and (2) arbitrary marks, such as AMAZON for retail services.

What is the most famous trademark? ›

Some of the most widely recognized and famous trademarks include:
  • Google.
  • Walmart.
  • Vodafone.
  • Rolex.
  • Clorox.
  • Kodak.
  • Exxon.
  • Victoria Secret.

What is the weakest trademark? ›

Generic. Finally, a generic mark is the weakest form of a mark because it simply uses the word of the good or service as its trademark.

Is a logo a trademark? ›

A trademark is a distinguishable and recognizable sign, design, or expression that identifies specific products or services of a particular source as distinct from others. A logo is a graphic sign, mark, or symbol used to identify a particular source. It is fair to say that a logo is a type of trademark.

What is the oldest trademark? ›

The earliest known trademark is said to be the Bass Ale triangle, depicted on beer bottles in the 1882 painting by French artist Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

Can 2 letters be trademarked? ›

The answer is yes. Trademarks consisting of 1 or 2 letters are valid and it is not correct to say that that they are devoid of distinctive character or descriptive because of their “shortness”.

What does 1B mean in trademark? ›

An application can be filed under a 1A basis or a 1B basis. A 1A basis means the mark is already used in commerce. A 1B basis means the mark has not been used in commerce but the applicant has an intent to use the mark in commerce.

What is a poor man's trademark? ›

A poor man's trademark, in simple terms, is when a person mails to themselves in an envelope their underlying artwork or name they wish to trademark to themselves using the United States Postal Service.

What is a Class 1 trademark? ›

Class 1 includes mainly chemical products used in industry, science and agriculture, including those which go to the making of products belonging to other classes. This Class includes in particular, compost, salt for preserving other than for foodstuffs and certain additives for the food industry.

Who owns Nike's trademark? ›

4 The co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight, and his son Travis Knight, along with the holding companies and trusts they control, own more than 97% of outstanding Class A shares. 5 This allows the Knight family to exercise effective control of Nike even though it is a publicly traded business.

Can Nike sue you for using their logo? ›

United States law allows the holders of federally registered trademarks to sue others who use those marks without permission, when the use in question causes a “likelihood of confusion” to actual or potential customers.

Where is Nike's trademark located? ›

The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, in the Portland metropolitan area.

What is the hidden message in the Nike logo? ›

Did you know Nike's logo has a hidden message? Not many do! The famous swoosh used by the company represents one of the wings of 'Nike,' the Greek goddess of victory.

Why did Nike block their logo? ›

Why did Nike block their logo? Chris Do: "I think when a logo is used on every single thing they make, it can be tiresome. By blocking it out, they not only reinforce their logo, by forcing the viewer to imagine it behind the box, but they're also freshening it up." While NIKE is hiding their logo, get yours revealed..

Is Nike a trademark or copyright? ›

All trademarks, service marks and trade names (e.g., the NIKE name and the Swoosh design) are owned, registered and/or licensed by NIKE. You do not acquire a license or any ownership rights to any trademarks, service marks, or trade names through your access or use of the Platform or Content.

Do trademarks ever expire? ›

Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set period of time. Trademarks will persist so long as the owner continues to use the trademark. Once the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), grants a registered trademark, the owner must continue to use the trademark in ordinary commerce.

Can someone steal your trademark? ›

Trademark theft is the use of a name, slogan, word, phrase, or symbol that is used in commerce by another business. This is known as infringement and is defined by the court based on the likelihood of confusion by consumers due to unauthorized use of the mark.

Do trademarks make money? ›

Is it really possible to make real money with trademarks? Of course it is! You can ask the owner of the phrase “Let's get Ready to Rumble” who has made well over $400 million in licensing revenue according to ABC. And there are countless other companies, brands, and entrepreneurs that profit from trademarks.

Is Jesus a trademark? ›

Jesus has been registered as a trademark in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Italy, [and] Spain,” for example.

What is Kylie Jenner trademark? ›

The reality star later launched her beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics, and trademarked the company name.

Who has that's hot trademark? ›

Paris Hilton has trademarked her reality-show catchphrase "That's hot." At the peak of her reality-television fame in the early 2000s, Paris Hilton trademarked her signature catchphrase, "That's hot," per CNN. She was known for saying it on her show "The Simple Life," which she starred on with Nicole Richie.

What name Cannot be trademarked? ›

Trademarks which contain or comprise matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any class or sections of citizens of India. Trademarks which contain or comprise scandalous or obscene matter. If the usage of the trademark is prohibited under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

Can you lose a trademark if you don't use it? ›

You can lose a mark through abandonment. A mark will be considered abandoned if you stop using it for three consecutive years and you have no intent to resume its use. You can also lose a mark through improper licensing or improper assignment.

What words are not trademarked? ›

What Can't Be Trademarked?
  • Proper names or likenesses without consent from the person.
  • Generic terms, phrases, or the like.
  • Government symbols or insignia.
  • Vulgar or disparaging words or phrases.
  • The likeness of a U.S. President, former or current.
  • Immoral, deceptive, or scandalous words or symbols.
  • Sounds or short motifs.

Can I trademark my name? ›

You can trademark your name if it has business or commercial value. Trademarking your name gives you an additional brand and keeps others from using your name. To trademark your name you must meet specific requirements with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

How much is a trademark cost? ›

Fees to trademark a business name

When filing an application to trademark your business name on a federal level through the USPTO, you should count on paying between $250 and $750.

Can someone use my logo if its not trademarked? ›

Logos don't even need to be registered as trademarks to be protected under current law. This means that using someone else's logo without permission, even if it's unregistered, is against the law.

Is Vaseline a trademark? ›

Chesebrough trademarked the name in 1870. Vaseline became an enormously popular way to heal dry skin, chapped lips and burn wounds. Before long, it was in every first aid kit and medication cabinet in the country.

What was the first US trademark? ›

According to the USPTO, the Averill Ready-Mix Paint logo is the first U.S. registered trademark, filed for paints on August 29, 1870 and issued on October 23, 1870.

Who owns a trademark? ›

The owner of a trademark is the person who applies the mark to goods that they produce, or uses the mark in the sale or advertising of services that they perform.

What happens if I trademark a name already in use? ›

If somebody else is already using a mark that is reasonably similar to yours, it's likely that your application for trademark registration will be denied. United States trademark law requires trademarks to be entirely unique from any other than are currently in use.

Does adding a word change a trademark? ›

The answer is generally no.

But generally adding or deleting a word or making any kind of other change to the mark is going to jeopardize the filing and require a new filing.

Can I trademark a common word? ›

Common words and phrases can be trademarked if the person or company seeking the trademark can demonstrate that the phrase has acquired a distinctive secondary meaning apart from its original meaning. That secondary meaning must be one that identifies the phrase with a particular good or service.

What is a 2/f trademark? ›

The Principal Register Section 2(f) Register is a trademark designation managed by the trademark office for marks that are generally not protectable as trademarks, but have acquired trademark protection eligibility due to widespread public recognition as a brand and / or long and continuous use.

What is a Class 16 trademark? ›

Trademark Class 16 provides trademark protections to businesses operating in the paper and office supply industries. Books are also covered by this class.

What is a Class 33 trademark? ›

Trademark Class 33 pertains to alcoholic beverages, except beer (Class 32) The following goods must NOT be classified under Class 33: Medicinal beverages; Beer; De-alcoholised beverages.

Is Viagra a trademark? ›

VIAGRA Trademark of UPJOHN US 1 LLC - Registration Number 2162548 - Serial Number 75089201 :: Justia Trademarks.

Can you trademark a name and not use it? ›

Trademark law protects names, logos and other “marks” that are used in commerce. To register your name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you must use it in business.

Can I use an abandoned trademark? ›

When a trademark is abandoned, the trademark owner may no longer claim rights to the trademark. In effect, this frees the trademark so that anyone else can use it without recourse from the original trademark owner.

What company owns Nike trademark? ›

Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. Beaverton, Oregon, U.S. The company was founded on January 25, 1964, as "Blue Ribbon Sports", by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, and officially became Nike, Inc.

What is Michael Jordan's trademark? ›

One of the first things on this list is Michael Jordan's name; he trademarked his own name in 1987 following its first commercial use in 1984. It's been trademarked for use in: Promoting goods and services through product endorsements.

Is Air Jordan trademark? ›

AIR JORDAN Trademark of Nike, Inc. - Registration Number 3725535 - Serial Number 77753704 :: Justia Trademarks. 031701, 210320, 240907 - Wings. Basketballs.

How much is the Nike trademark worth? ›

As such, the swoosh logo, along with Nike's trademark-protected name, are two of the most important assets of the Nike brand, which is worth a whopping $36.8 billion, according to Forbes' “World's Most Valuable Brands” list.

Is the Jumpman logo trademarked? ›

In 1987 Nike created the “Jumpman logo” which is still used as a logo on shoes and all kinds of sporting gear until today and has become one of Nike's most well-known trademarks. In 2015 Jacobus Rentmeester filed a lawsuit against Nike for copyright infringement.

Is goat a trademark? ›

GOAT Trademark - Serial Number 78765079 :: Justia Trademarks.

Is the number 23 trademarked? ›

Despite his amazing marketing tactics, Jordan's trademark portfolio is relatively small. He owns the rights to his own name, and he registered his famous jersey number – 23 – for key chains, stickers, and other memorabilia.

Who owns the rights to the Jumpman logo? ›

The Jumpman logo has progressed from the famous Air Jordan shoes to a full line of clothing and accessories. The Nike owned brand even provides uniforms for several major college sports programs such as Michigan and UCLA. All 30 NBA teams also use the logo for their "statement edition" jerseys.

What does Nike stand for? ›

In Greek mythology, Nike is the Winged Goddess of Victory. The logo is derived from goddess' wing,'swoosh', which symbolises the sound of speed, movement, power and motivation.

Can I put a Nike logo on a shirt and sell it? ›

It is illegal. In the United States it is a Federal felony. It is called trademark counterfeiting, and people go to prison for it.

How long does a trademark last? ›

Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set period of time. Trademarks will persist so long as the owner continues to use the trademark. Once the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), grants a registered trademark, the owner must continue to use the trademark in ordinary commerce.


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