Judge tosses photographer’s suit vs. Jordan brand

Photographer’s copyright claim to iconic Michael Jordan pose dismissed by federal judge.

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A photographer’s copyright claim to the iconic Michael Jordan pose was dismissed by a federal judge on June 15.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman wrote that photographer Jacobus Rentmeester “failed to show that he can satisfy the requisite objective test for copyright infringement.”

Rentmeester alleged that Nike paid him $150 in 1984 for temporary use of the photos he took of Jordan. The next year, Nike took their own shots that looked similar to Rentmeester’s. The judge denied similarities in the images.

After his analysis of the two photos, Mosman writes, “Mr. Rentmeester has shot another brick and failed to meet the objective test for copyright infringement.” In addition to the 1984 payment, the lawsuit says Nike paid Rentmeester $15,000 in March 1985 for a limited license to use the image of the soaring Jordan for two years. The photographer’s lawsuit accuses Nike of exceeding the agreement with marketing materials including the 1987-created Jumpman logo — a silhouette inspired by a soaring image.

In siding with Nike [for dismissal], Mosman writes in his 14-page opinion that “the only arguably original part of Mr. Rentmeester’s selection and arrangement is that the photograph was taken outside as opposed to inside a gym: “However, given that a lot of basketball is played every day by would-bes, has-beens, and never-weres in driveways and outdoor courts at neighborhood parks, even this element and arrangement is not all that original.”

(SOURCE: OregonLive.com)

Rentmeester’s attorneys have already filed an appeal.