Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Nike challenges Russia’s defense giant Rosoboronexport

Sportswear giant Nike has set forth a claim against Russia’s defense export enterprise Rosoboronexport. Nike addressed to the Patent Dispute Chamber objecting the provision of the legal protection of Rosoboronexport’s trademark registered in November 2006 on 12 kinds of goods (from paints to clothes and shoes).

Spokespeople for the sportswear giant said that the vertical element of Rosoboronexport’s logo reproduces the logo of Nike rotated 90 degrees. Nike believes that the logo of Rosoboronexport may confuse customers.

Nike’s world-known logo known as swoosh symbolizes the wing of the Greek Goddess Nike. Even Russia’s Central Election Committee coordinated the logo of the national presidential campaign with Nike – the swoosh colored like the Russian flag. Nike did not have any objections against it then.

The Patent Dispute Chamber overruled Nike’s claims and said that the sickle-shaped elements of the two trademarks differ in their exterior outline. In addition, it was said that the colors of Rosoboronexport coincide with the colors of the Russian flag, which customers automatically associate with the Russian origin of the goods.

Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger, making most sales at track meets out of Knight's car.

The company's profits grew quickly, and in 1966, BRS opened its first retail store, located on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, Calif. By 1971, the relationship between BRS and Onitsuka Tiger was nearing an end. BRS prepared to launch its own line of footwear, which would bear the newly designed Swoosh.

The first shoe to carry this design that was sold to the public was a soccer cleat named "Nike", which was released in the summer of 1971. In February 1972, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes, with the name Nike derived from the Greek goddess of victory. In 1978, BRS, Inc. officially renamed itself to Nike, Inc. Beginning with Ilie Nastase, the first professional athlete to sign with BRS/Nike, the sponsorship of athletes became a key marketing tool for the rapidly growing company.

JSC Rosoboronexport is the sole state intermediary agency for Russia's exports/imports of defense–related and dual use products, technologies and services. The corporation was set up by the Decree of the President of Russian Federation and is charged with implementation of the policy of the State in the area of military-technical cooperation between Russia and foreign countries.

The official status of Rosoboronexport secures the guaranteed support of the Russian Government in all export operations. Only the Rosoboronexport State Corporation is entitled to supply the international market, the whole range of Russian armaments officially allowed for exporting.

Rosoboronexport is ranked among the leading operators in the international arms market. The status of the state intermediary agency provides the corporation with unique opportunities in expanding and strengthening long-term mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign partners.