Under Armour says Skechers copied its commercials right down to the music

Under Armour filed a federal suit against Skechers, alleging the California-based shoe and apparel company violated copyright protections by copying the look and feel of its "Protect This House. I Will" ads — right down to the music.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore this week, says Skechers' sports circuit training commercial "slavishly copies" Under Armour's "highly promoted, successful, and recognized" ads.

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The Baltimore-based sports apparel and shoe brand asked the court to halt the Skechers commercials, and order its competitor to pay unspecified damages, plus profits Skechers received from the ad.

Under Armour has not shied away from litigation to defend its brand and advertising in the past. It's even sued Nike over its use of "I will" as a slogan in advertising.

In the new suit, Under Armour alleges the Skechers commercial "consists of similarly lit, close-up images shown in rapid succession, of athletes in cavernous warehouses and gymnasiums (amid gritty surroundings consisting of cracked concrete and worn and/or peeling paint) taking on rigorous physical workouts, such as climbing a pegboard, whipping heavy ropes, boxing, and jumping hurdles."

Under Armour says the Skechers commercial also features music with "an aggressive up-beat tempo, loud bass line, and heavy percussion sounds" — just like its own ads.

Skechers spokeswoman Lauren Dutko said Wednesday that the company "does not comment on pending litigation."

Skechers sells "high performance and lifestyle footwear" online and in department, specialty and independent stores, as well as through more than 1,000 company-owned Skechers retailers, according to its website.

In its 16-page complaint, Under Armour says it discovered the infringement in October 2014 and tried unsuccessfully to resolve the matter without litigation.

"iSpot metrics indicate that the Skechers commercial has been broadcast on television in the United States over 1600 times and is currently airing on television," says a Dec. 8 letter from an Under Armour lawyer to Skechers that was attached as an exhibit. "It is apparent that the Skechers' advertisement appropriates not only the theme, look and feel of the Under Armour combine training advertisement but slavishy copies the score from Under Armour's ads."

A year ago, Under Armour and Nike settled a trademark infringement suit in which the Baltimore-based company accused its rival of illegally using versions of the "I Will" slogan.

No terms were disclosed. In the lawsuit, Under Armour said Nike used slogans in social media ads that began with "I will," such as "I will finish what I started," and "I will sweat while they sleep."

Nike denied infringing on a trademark, calling "I will" a common and "weak and diluted phrase."

Last month, Under Armour filed a lawsuit against Salt Armour Inc., saying the Boca Raton-based seller of saltwater fishing apparel violated the brand's trademark rights because its accessories use the names "Salt Armour" and "Defense Armour."

jebarker@baltsun.com

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