Out-Law News 1 min. read

Hackney wins £300,000 from Nike in logo dispute

Hackney council has won £300,000 from Nike in a dispute over the London borough council's logo, which Nike had used on sports clothes without permission. Nike will also pay the council's legal costs.

Hackney is associated with amateur football because it contains Hackney Marshes, a field of 90 full-size football pitches which is the biggest concentration of pitches in the world. It has been, amongst other things, the location of a famous television advert featuring Eric Cantona entitled 'Parklife'.

Nike vest and shirt with Hackney Council logo

Nike produced t-shirts, trainers and footballs containing the Hackney council logo without its permission. It has now apologised to the council and agreed the settlement out of court. The council said it would spend the money on sports in the area.

"This is a great result for Hackney," said the borough's mayor, Jules Pipe. "Our legal team advised us that this was a fair settlement based on the amount of gear sold. This is extra money to spend on sports activities in Hackney, and shows that it was worth standing up to Nike."

"Public authorities tend to be less on the ball about the value of the brands that they have, and Hackney Marshes had developed into a brand in itself," said Lee Curtis, a trade mark attorney with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. "Hackney are probably ahead of the game in that they appreciate what they have."

Charlie Brooks, head of corporate communications at Nike UK, said: "We inadvertently used imagery that included the council’s logo. This was done in good faith and not as a deliberate act, however we recognise the concern this has caused Hackney Council and we are pleased that this matter has now been concluded."

Trade mark, logo and related disputes are more common between pairs of private sector organisations, but Hackney said that it was keen to defend itself. "This was always about more than cash – there is a serious principle at stake here," said Pipe. "Just because we are a public organisation, it does not mean that big corporations can take what they want from local people without asking."

"Maybe Nike thought 'this is a council, we'll try it on and see how it goes'," said Curtis. "Had it been Adidas's trade mark maybe they wouldn't have been as willing to do it."

"Councils should look at what the do have and the value of the brands they have," said Curtis. "Here is one council with £300,000 to spend on improving sports facilities in Hackney, which shows how much value there is."

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