That time Navy sank Nike

The battle between Navy and Nike won’t be found in warfare history, but it’s worth noting, though it’s left me with two unanswered questions.

It all started with the unveiling of a new logo for an L.A. shop (and longtime Nike partner). It took social media about a nanosecond to lose its collective mind over the blatant similarities. See if you can spot them:

Nike Undefeated

In case you had any doubt, that’s the Naval Academy crest on the right.

The Academy took the high road and wrote a simple note basically asking Nike to do the right thing. The statement read, in part, “The Naval Academy crest represents honor, integrity and leadership and is emblematic of our students and more than 80,000 alumni who serve and have served our country, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in its defense. It is difficult to understand why anyone would modify and use our symbol without permission for marketing and profit motives.”

That last sentence had to be the clincher.

The brand squashed the planned product launch and released its own statement, basically apologizing for being copycats.

All is well that ends well, but here are my two questions:

  1. Who botched this one? I mean, Nike has a market cap of more than $120 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) and a world-class marketing team and, one must suppose, a big legal team. Didn’t anyone do a basic search to see if there were any trademark ramifications for this new logo? It’s hard to believe that an artist with any sort of experience wouldn’t know that it is blatantly wrong to take the Academy’s crest and just alter like that. I would love to know the story inside Nike.
  2. Since the line was supposed to launch shortly after the scandal broke, you have to assume that most of the apparel was already created and just waiting to be put on display. So … what happened to all the shirts, etc.? Did they get destroyed or shipped to some Third World country like the ones proclaiming the Patriots Super Bowl 52 champions?

We’ll probably never know. But we do know that everyone should keep their hands off trademarked USNA material from now on!

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