Nike Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Use of Famous Bo Jackson Photograph

Bo might know everything but does Nike know lawsuits? On June 24, 2013, photographer Richard Noble sued Nike in the Southern District of New York for copyright infringement. The suit stems from Noble’s photograph of Bo Jackson, a former professional football and baseball player, which Noble claims portrays a rare glimpse of Jackson in both football and baseball equipment. According to the lawsuit, Nike used the famous photograph in recent years without Noble’s permission.
Originally, Noble granted Nike a limited license to use the photo in its highly successful “Bo Knows” advertising campaign. However, Nike may have overstepped its boundaries. Noble recently discovered that Nike has been using the photo for various other purposes allegedly not covered under their licensing agreement. Specifically, Noble says Nike has used the image since 2007 for a recent line of sneakers. Further, Noble found that Nike had been using the image on social media as well. In addition, Noble claims that Nike, without any authorization, gave ESPN permission to use the photo.  The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Nike is not the only company in Noble’s sights. Noble says he has also discovered unauthorized use of the photo by companies such as Nice Kicks, Steiner Sports Memorabilia and others and plans to continue his investigation into all suspected violations.