Under Armour wins home court advantage in trademark dispute

With the relocation of its court hearing, Under Armour has gained a small advantage in a recent trademark dispute where the active brand was sued for copying a smaller label's "I Can" graphics for apparel lines, including its popular Steph Curry product.


A t-shirt featuring the "I Can" graphic - Under Armour

This week, a federal court in Maryland granted Under Armour a step towards victory when it agreed to hear the trademark dispute closer to the brand's home turf, instead of in North Carolina where the suit was initially filed.

The trademark suit dates back to December 2017, when a North Carolina business owner sued Under Armour for using his trademark, a stylized image of the words "I Can." The registered mark was allegedly copied by the athletic label as part of its "I can. I will" and "I can do all things" campaigns.

Under Armour argued the inspiration for the phrase came from athlete Steph Curry's favorite Bible verse, denying it copied the Battle Fashions mark owned by the smaller company.

According to the complaint, Kelsey Battle “first discovered the infringement, while visiting a Belk department store, where he saw shirts displaying his [I Can] mark hanging on the stands." His friends falsely congratulated him when they saw the product, believing he had signed a deal with Under Armour.

Under Armour is denying infringement. The company does not comment on active litigation but it has said it values the intellectual property rights of others.

Under Armour has now asked the court to grant a declarative judgment that it has not infringed on Battle Fashions' mark. It has also asked the court to order that its use of "I can. I will" and "I can do all things" are fair use and legally permissible.
 

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