Nike on Friday apologized and halted the release of a logo for a sportswear line that bore a striking similarity to the U.S. Naval Academy crest scheduled to launch Sunday.
The logo, which was a collaboration between Nike and Undefeated, a Los Angeles sportswear line, sparked backlash on social media and prompted the rebuke from the U.S. Naval Academy.
"The similarities of the Nike/UNDEFEATED logo released this week and the USNA Crest are undeniable and we believe their logo is clearly an infringement under trademark law. USNA is working with Navy leadership to order Nike/UNDEFEATED to cease and desist their use of the logo,” the Naval Academy tweeted.
An academy spokeswoman also released a statement Friday obtained by The Washington Post.
“The Naval Academy crest represents honor, integrity and leadership,” she said. “And is emblematic of our students and more than 80,000 alumni who serve and have served our country, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in its defense.”
Comments poured in on social media calling the logo “just plain wrong” and a “ripoff,” while some on Twitter called it “stolen valor,” according to The Post.
The Capital Gazette from Annapolis, Md., the city where the Naval Academy is based, also pointed out the logos’ similarities.
The Nike logo had its signature swoosh on a trophy cup, which was similar to how the Naval Academy’s trident is seen tightly grasped. The logos similarly had two columns on each side, with flames and scrolls in almost identical fashion.
“It is difficult to understand why anyone would modify and use our symbol without permission for marketing and profit motives,” the Naval Academy’s statement said.
Nike responded with a written statement Friday.
“We recently were made aware of our logo being included into a design that has been previously used by one of our longstanding partners,” the athletics company said. “We have always respected the US Navy and its Academy and have been a longtime supporter of the military.”
“We do not feel it is appropriate to move forward with the collection,” Nike said. “We apologize to anyone who was offended.”
Jennifer Erickson, a spokeswoman for the academy, consequently responded to Nike’s decision with a statement Friday, The Post reported.
“The Naval Academy appreciates Nike’s announcement to no longer use the Undefeated logo resembling our Naval Academy crest. We are pleased by this decision which is respectful of the Academy, our students and alumni.”
The Undefeated brand did not immediately respond for comment on Friday.