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ICAN clothing brand designer files lawsuit against Under Armour

A maker of T-shirts and sweatshirts sold under the ICAN brand has filed a lawsuit accusing Under Armour of infringing on a trademark through its sale of products featuring the NBA star Stephen Curry.

Kelsey Battle, owner of the Fayetteville, N.C.-based ICAN business, said the Baltimore sports brand is using the ICAN mark, including slogans such as “I Can. I Will.” and “I Can Do All Things” to build a product line for Curry, according to the lawsuit.

“Under Armour has willfully damaged Mr. Battle’s mark, swamping the market, causing confusion, and denying him any opportunity to grow his own family business,” according to the lawsuit, filed Dec. 20 in U.S. District Court in North Carolina.

Battle filed his lawsuit more than a month after Under Armour sought a court judgment declaring that its use of “I Can” slogans on its clothing and footwear does not infringe on the trademark rights of Battle and his Battle Fashions Inc.

Under Armour filed its claim to resolve the issues after Battle wrote to and called the company demanding that it stop using the phrases and repeatedly threatened to take legal action, according to Under Armour’s complaint, filed Nov. 1 in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

Under Armour uses the phrase “I Can Do All things” in its line for Curry, who is known for writing his favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”) on his shoes, the company’s claim said.

Under Armour has told Battle that its use of “I Can” in formative and descriptive phases constitutes fair use and is not likely to cause confusion and that “numerous third parties use similar descriptive phrases that begin with I Can,” the lawsuit said.

“Under Armour values the intellectual property rights of others and believe the claims are without merit,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Battle, a disabled veteran who served in the Army from 1990 to 2001, launched the ICAN brand as a faith-based and empowerment-oriented brand, working seven days a week at multiple jobs including a shoe store where a fellow veteran tutored him in the fashion trade, according to his lawsuit. He has been designing, marketing and selling apparel for nearly two decades.

He said in the suit that he discovered the alleged infringement while shopping at a Belk department store, where he saw shirts with the ICAN mark.

“His family and friends called to congratulate him on ICAN’s partnership with Steph Curry and Under Armour,” the lawsuit said. “It was Under Armour’s attempt to simply take ICAN for itself and the Steph Curry product line.”

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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