The Nike ‘Jumpman’ logo, which sports a leaping Michael Jordan, has been cleared of any copyright violations after a two-year legal battle with photographer Jacobus Rentmeester. The logo shows Jordan silhouette jumping with his legs spread out, while his left arm is extended upward and a basketball in hand.
The logo is said to be inspired by a photo taken by photographer Jacobus Rentmeester, who shot it back in 1985 during Jordan’s season with Chicago Bulls and had been used in a Life magazine feature on that year’s Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Nike used that photo to market Air Jordan sneakers, and in 1987 to create the Jumpman logo.
Despite having been paid US$15,000 for the image, Rentmeester still accused the company for violating their original agreement.
Finally, the court has ruled that Nike did not misappropriated Rentmeester’s photo and that this 1984 photo is unmistakably different to Nike’s logo.
According to the official statement released by the court, it was concluded that while both photos “capture Michael Jordan in a leaping pose inspired by ballet’s grand jeté,” they were not “substantially similar” because of differences in setting, lighting and other elements. The court also said that this meant the logo was also acceptable, and added that Jordan’s pose by itself could not be copyrighted.
“Copyright promotes the progress of science and the useful arts by encouraging others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work,” says the judge in the statement.“That is all Nike’s photographer did here.”
The sportswear company announced that it would continue to use the iconic logo in aims of inspiring athletes to achieve higher standards of greatness.
The Jordan brand now generates $3.1 billion of annual revenue for Nike.