Ministry of Sport

Federer’s logo battle with Nike

Rodger Federer’s US$300 million move to Uniqlo has been covered by all major news outlets across the globe, however, his ‘RF’ logo dispute with Nike is yet to be determined.

Federer ended his long-standing deal with US sports giant, Nike in March.

Making his first appearance at Wimbledon after signing the deal, Federer was sporting both Uniqlo and his Nike trainers which had the RF logo printed on the side.

Stating in an interview that he hoped the RF logo would come back to him at some point, Federer said: “It’s also something that was very important for me, for the fans really. They are my initials. They are mine.”

Nike is the owner of the trademark in the RF logo in various registries across the world, although Federer is the registered owner of trademarks covering his full name and signature, so these are not in dispute. 

In the absence of any commercial agreement between the parties permitting continued use of the RF logo by Federer, he could be held to be infringing Nike’s trademarks, despite them being ‘his’ initials, so the sportswear giant appears to be in a strong bargaining position.

Options remain for Nike to impose legal rights restricting Federer from wearing the brand, or for the two parties to reach a deal and transfer the ownership of the logo back to Federer for a price.

Federer Signed his first deal with Nike at 13 and the current situation is perhaps a lesson in brand management and the contracts that underpin it; parties should keep their commercial terms under review and ensure that future events are covered as far as possible, to reduce the scope for IP disputes later down the line.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney

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