Michael Phelps featured in Under Armour's "Rule Yourself" campaign

Under Armour is not pleased that its motivational “I Will” tag line is being used by a former football player trying to build up his new fitness business.

The company last month sued Ike Williams in California federal court, alleging trademark infringement over the former NFL player’s branding of his fitness training business and an upcoming apparel line as the I Will Academy, with “I Will” be used predominantly in promotional efforts.

Williams allegedly took to Instagram to reveal his plans to launch a line of T-shirts, hoodies socks and boxers featuring the “I Will” tag line. Under Armour said he bought a domain name using the phrase last year and has rebuffed the company’s attempts to settle the dispute out of court. He responded to a January cease-and-desist letter with “I’ll see you in court,” Under Armour said.

“For years, Under Armour has continuously and extensively used and promoted the trademark/tag line ‘I Will’ in connection with its business, products and services in various ways,” the company said in its complaint. “As a result, the ‘I Will’ mark has become famous as a succinct symbol of Under Armour’s brand values and philosophy.”

The company added that it’s been using the phase in marketing and promotion since at least 1998, two years after it was founded, and that it appeared on everything from products to in-store displays to television commercials over the years. It also holds four trademarks covering the phrase.

“Further still, like Under Armour, [Williams] has been using #IWill to promote his services and business plans, and has made social media posts on Twitter about Under Armour’s ceo Kevin Plank in connection with the unauthorized ‘I Will’ marks,” Under Armour said. “Fully aware of Under Armour’s rights, [the] defendant has acted knowingly, willfully, in reckless disregard of those rights and in bad faith.”


The company added that Williams’ extensive use of “I Will” is likely to “cause confusion, mistake and deception” among the public about the source of his good and “falsely suggest” a connection between him and Under Armour.

“Defendant’s acts have damaged and irreparably injured and, if permitted to continue, will further damage and irreparably injure Under Armour and its ‘I Will’ mark,” the company said.

It’s suing for trademark infringement and dilution, cybersquatting and unfair competition and asked the court to order the resignation of the domain name along with a permanent injunction against Williams’ use of the “I Will” mark. Under Armour also asked that he be prohibited from registering a trademark for I Will Academy and be forced to hand over any profits realized from the use of the trademark.

Williams could not be immediately reached for comment.

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