Clothing company Coogi may be looking at how to move forward on a copyright and trademark infringement suit it filed against Nike, the Brooklyn Nets and others in February over the Nets’ “Brooklyn Camo” jerseys. Coogi has claimed not only that the jerseys’ designs infringed its copyrights for a distinctive multicolored stripe design, but also that the defendants had purchased adwords containing its trademarked name.
The federal judge in New York overseeing the case directed it to a magistrate judge this week to work out their differences, after Coogi issued a subpoena to Google last month. The court instructed the parties in the suit to inform the court after a settlement conference how they intend to proceed. The parties are scheduled to have a phone conference with the magistrate judge on May 13, according to a notice posted on Thursday.
Coogi had accused the defendants of buying from Google or other Internet companies certain search terms including “Coogi Brooklyn Nets,” so that those searches would pull up sponsored ads for those jerseys. The company was arguing that even purchasing adwords containing its trademarked name would amount to trademark infringement. In April, the company went so far as to issue a subpoena to Google for information about the sale of the adwords in question.
Nike, the Nets and others rebuked the subpoena in an opposition filed last week, arguing that it was asking for “unnecessary and irrelevant information.” The companies argued also that merely purchasing adwords containing a trademarked term could not be infringement.
“Accordingly, Google should not be required to prepare responses, pull and review materials, and otherwise expend efforts to provide documents on a claim that fails as a matter of law,” the companies wrote in their April 25 motion to quash the subpoena.
The contested jerseys were part of a “City Edition” that bore NBA teams’ hometown signifiers, according to the suit. The Brooklyn Nets “Brooklyn Camo” jerseys, in a clear nod to rap legend Biggie Smalls of Bed-Stuy, had stripes at the edges of its collars and sleeves that evoke the Coogi sweaters that Biggie wore, Coogi claimed. The rapper so favored Coogi that he peppered his verses with references to the brand as a mark of his own success, according to the complaint.
“His 1994 song ‘Big Poppa’ contained the following: ‘I had to find the buried treasure, so grams I had to measure. However, living better now, Coogi sweater now,” Coogi wrote in the complaint.
An attorney for Coogi declined to comment, and attorneys for Nike, the Brooklyn Nets and NBA Properties did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Nike, the Brooklyn Nets and New Era Cap Co. Inc., which was also named as a defendant, could not be reached for comment Thursday.