Under Armour recently filed a complaint against Armor & Glory, a Christian sportswear company in the District Court of Maryland for trademark infringement. The alleged infringement? Use of the word “Armor” in Armor & Glory’s name.
identifier in a manner likely to confuse the public as to the source of the goods. In considering the merit of such
claims, courts weigh factors like degree of similarity and relatedness of the goods at issue.
“confusion, mistake, and deception” and would “dilute the distinctiveness and further damage and irreparably injure” Under Armor’s brand. Under Armour is calling for Armor & Glory to destroy all products, hand over its domain name and profits, and pay Under Armour’s attorney’s fees and damages of $100,000 or more. Under Armour’s former trademark attorney guarantees that it will be “an expensive and time-consuming legal battle.”
“Armor” in their marketing. So far, they’ve sued Body Armor (a sports drink company), Salt Armor (a Florida fishing apparel company), and Ass Armor (a company that produces shock-absorbing snowboarding shorts). Armor & Glory is the latest target.
between a sportswear empire and a small niche business. One of the key components in a trademark
infringement case is consideration of whether consumers would be so confused that they would conflate the two different companies together. In this case, Armor & Glory specifically markets to a religious audience. They sell
shirts with slogans like “Be spiritually attractive” and “Put on God’s armor and receive His glory.” It’s therefore perhaps a bit of a stretch to think that consumers will suddenly believe that Under Armour has added a religious line to its product catalog.
protect its intellectual property assets. As attorney Anna Isaacs notes in a recent article,
Under Armour is trying to create space for its brand and send a message to would-be freeloaders that if their products tread too close to the line, Under Armour is not afraid to pursue litigation as a means of protecting itself.
Furthermore, Under Armour is hardly the only sports apparel company that uses such litigation tactics; Under Armour has itself been sued by Nike and Adidas in the past as part of those companies’ IP protection campaigns. As Ms. Isaacs notes, overprotectiveness is common in the world of sports apparel. A lot of money and
research goes into creating product and building reputation. Thus, while going after smaller companies like Armor & Glory may seem heavy-handed and, potentially, dilatory from a financial standpoint, Under Armour’s strategy of
aggressively protecting its marks shows that it isn’t afraid stave off those who get too close to its brand.
Armour’s intellectual property rights without subjecting smaller companies to the high costs of defense. While it makes sense to litigate against larger companies like Nike and Adidas, a win against a little company like Armor and Glory could be a pyrrhic victory for Under Armour. Such companies are small and sell to
such a specialized niche that battling them is unlikely to yield much gain. Yet a willingness to go after even the small fry of the sportswear world certainly demonstrates that Under Armour is not afraid to hold its own, and may make other companies think twice before choosing names and branding campaigns that stray too close to Under Armour’s marks.