Federer initials have landed him in a TM dispute with Nike
Written by Mark Reed on 09 July 2018« Return to Reading Room
The RF logo that Roger Federer usually wears has been put under ice at this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Federer has been with Nike for 24 years and although they are his initials, Nike owns the trademark for the logo. The issue is that Federer has a new contract with Japanese clothing company ‘Uniqlo’ which is worth a whopping $300m.
The logo RF is planned to be proudly positioned alongside the Uniqlo logo on his t shirts while playing but Federer has stated in an interview that “The RF logo is with Nike at the moment but will come to me at some point, I hope rather sooner than later. Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me because it is also something that is very important for me, for the fans really. They are my initials. They are mine. The good news is that it’s not theirs forever. We need to figure out of Uniqlo when we can start selling to the public... we’re hopeful that people can start buying my stuff next year.”
The only way Federer can start using his logo is for there to be a brand transfer to him which can take some time, and has to be agreed by Nike of course. It also depends on the contract that Nike had with Roger Federer as to whether there is any demand he can make to have it transferred. Mewburn Ellis’ Jaqueline Pang looked over the dispute and found that: -
“On the face of it, Nike’s legal position seems strong. It owns a number of trademark registrations around the world for the ‘RF’ logo and presumably also owns the copyright. Barring anything in the contract to the contrary, it could retain ownership of the brand and continue to exploit it. In that case, it would also be in a position to prevent Federer or any third parties (ie, Uniqlo) from using the RF logo or anything similar for clothing and related goods. Federer’s confident comments may suggest that talks are already underway for the rights in the brand to be transferred to him or that there is provision in the contract to that effect. Or it could simply be a shrewd move to publicly apply pressure on Nike. Ultimately the legal position may prove irrelevant… Nike has a potentially difficult PR path to navigate: retaining legal control of the RF brand may be a pyrrhic victory if it means alienating Federer’s passionate and loyal fanbase on whom the value of the brand presumably rests.”
We shall watch closely to see whether Nike give in, and transfer the brand over to Roger Federer, or whether it will result in a full blown legal dispute.
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