Former professional American football player Shawne Merriman has recently commenced litigation in the US against global sporting goods giant Nike, alleging that the sports apparel and footwear company has infringed a trade mark that he owns for the term “Lights Out.”
Merriman is being represented by his own company, Lights Out Holdings LLC, and the case has been filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of California on 14 April 2014.
Merriman got the “Lights Out” nickname during his time in the National Football League, with the term itself originating from his brute strength, which he used to knock opposing players out during a game.
Merriman alleges that he and Nike tried to launch a clothing line that uses the Lights Out brand sometime between 2006 and 2007, but they weren’t able to come to terms. Merriman alleges Nike went ahead and used the brand anyway (the Nike STK Lights Out II Men's Baseball Pants is currently available on Nike's online store.)
According to a statement Merriman made after filing the case, he has secured the trade mark rights for the nickname as far back as 2007 and that he has been using it ever since. He also notes that he is suing Nike with the intent to protect his own brand and to protect other athletes who are trying to build their own brands in their career.
Merriman is seeking an injunction against Nike regarding the use of the Lights Out nickname, as well as damages. Nike has yet to comment on the case. If Merriman is correct and Nike disregarded his rights after failing to secure a licensing deal, then Nike faces considerable difficulties in defending the action.