Court: Nike logo of Michael Jordan didn't violate copyright

ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- A U.S. appeals court ruled that an iconic Nike logo of a leaping Michael Jordan didn't violate the copyright of an earlier photograph of the basketball star.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that the logo was based on a photograph of Jordan by Nike that was inspired by a 1984 photo by Jacobus Rentmeester.

They both show Jordan leaping with his legs extended outward toward a basketball hoop with a ball above his head. But the court says the photos are unmistakably different in key elements.

Nike used its photo for the "Jumpman" logo -- a silhouetted image of Jordan in the pose that the company has used to market billions of dollars of merchandise.

Rentmeester had sued in January 2015 for copyright infringement damages. An email to a law firm representing Rentmeester wasn't immediately returned.