Nike wins copyright case against photographer Jacobus Rentmeester.
After a two-year legal battle, Nike has won the copyright case against photographer Jacobus Rentmeester, who had accused the brand of stealing his photo of Michael Jordan and using it as the iconic Jumpman logo.
The image Rentmeester captured showed Jordan going up for a dunk with the Chicago Skyline serving as a backdrop. Rentmeester was reportedly paid $15,000 for the photo back in '85, but he claimed Nike's use of a similar photo as the face of the Jordan Brand line violated their original agreement.
According to Reuters, in a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Rentmeester did not show that Nike misappropriated his 1984 photo of MJ, which had been used in a Life magazine feature on that year’s Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Circuit Judge Paul Watford wrote 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, according to Reuters.
“We conclude that the works at issue here are as a matter of law not substantially similar,” the official court statement reads. “Just as Rentmeester made a series of creative choices in the selection and arrangement of the elements in his photograph, so too Nike’s photographer made his own distinct choices in that regard. Those choices produced an image that differs from Rentmeester’s photo in more than just minor details.”
The decision upheld a June 2015 ruling by now-Chief Judge Michael Mosman of the federal district court in Portland, Oregon, according to Reuters.