Shawne Merriman, a former NFL player with the San Diego Chargers, has taken legal action against Nike over its new apparel line named “Lights Out,” alleging it violates his own trademark. The ex-football player is also claiming millions of dollars in damages with the lawsuit.
The case was filed in the San Diego Federal Court on Monday on behalf of Merriman’s company, Lights Out Holdings LLC, according to a press statement filed via EAG Sports Management. In the suit, the player claims that “Lights Out” has been a brand synonymous with his entire career, for which he acquired federal trademark rights after unsuccessful negotiations with Nike for the creation of a “Lights Out” clothing line. Merriman says that after the discussions fell through in 2006, the professional sporting equipment manufacturer decided to use the trademark anyway.
The football player, who got his “Lights Out” nickname after knocking out opponents in a high school football game, is now suing the company for “unfair competition and trademark infringement.” He is also seeking an immediate and permanent injunction against the use of his trademark and related unfair business practices by the apparel company. He is hoping to receive $2 million per item as compensation for the damages incurred, the statement also said.
Merriman, who even starred in a commercial for Nike, played for the Chargers between 2005 and 2010. He spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Buffalo Bills before retiring in 2013. Lights Out Holdings LLC manufactures hats, shirts, shorts, nightwear, and tank tops for kids, men, and women, U-T San Diego reports.
A Nike spokesperson said that the company does not comment on active litigation.
What other famous athletes have sued to protect the use of their trademark nicknames?