The following article was written by Cyle Kiger.
I first saw an article for Nike’s new product FuelBand during CES in Las Vegas. The band is used to monitor the user’s activity rate while exercising, known as Nike Fuel.
Recently, a South Carolina based clothing company called Fuel Clothing sent a cease-and-desist letter warning Nike of its infringement. Later, with no acknowledgement from Nike to the letter, Fuel Clothing filed a suit against Nike for the use of their trademark “fuel.”
Fuel Clothing claims that Nike is using the word to target consumers with the same market that the South Carolina company targets. The clothing company went as far to say that Nike is using “fuel” on the “goodwill and reputation” that Fuel Clothing helped build for the word. Fuel Clothing is asking the court for money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees in excess of $75,000.
The lawsuit alleges Nike knew “fuel” was owned, yet they still went on trademarking the term in a few different categories; Fuel Clothing said that Nike avoided the apparel category, yet tried to trademark the name in “electrical and scientific apparatus” and “jewelry.”
I, too, feel as though Nike tried to jump through a few hoops to obtain the term to market their new product. For 20 years, Fuel Clothing has had the term trademarked. Because of the ownership of the term for a long period of time, Nike may have some troubles obtaining “fuel” naming rights for their apparel.
Fuel Clothing wants to take the case to a jury trial and judgment against Nike. I doubt it will go that far, as it seems that a good majority cases similar to this end up settling.