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Basketball star faces lawsuit in trademark dispute over slogan

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2020 | Intellectual Property

Entrepreneurs who have ideas or products they want to protect from illegal use should understand the complexity of trademark laws. Because many concepts are vulnerable to theft, trademark misappropriation concerns that pop up should be addressed. One notable recent trademark case involves a basketball star/business owner who is accused of utilizing and profiting from a phrase that was trademarked by another company.

World famous NBA player LeBron James is facing accusations that his company, Uninterrupted, unfairly profited from a trademarked phrase. The phrase in contention, ‘I am more than an athlete” had been trademarked by a nonprofit called Game Plan. The lawsuit claims that Mr. James has been generating revenue by utilizing the phrase. In addition to Mr. James’ company, Nike, ESPN, and video game maker of the NBA 2K series Take-Two Interactive, are also named as defendants.

Game Plan is seeking $33 million in the lawsuit. The nonprofit had used the slogan since 2016 and received a trademark for it in 2018. The complaint asserts that Mr. James used the slogan to respond to Fox News talk show host, Laura Ingraham, who had told him to “shut up and dribble.” Furthermore, the phrase gained rapid public attention when it was made into a sign with neon lights and posted on Mr. James’ Instagram account. James also placed a hashtag underneath the image refusing to shut up and dribble. The image was dated Feb. 16, 2018, and the sign is placed in the Los Angeles office of Uninterrupted.

Because Mr. James used a major social media outlet like Instagram, Game Plan says that the coverage James and his company received violated Game Plan’s trademark. Having a trademark dispute can be difficult. This is especially true when the entity that allegedly committed the violation is owned by a famous person. To recover compensation, it might be beneficial to have legal advice. A law firm experienced in protecting trademarks and other aspects of intellectual property law may be able to help.