Trademark Infringement Lawsuit: Is NBA Star the Real “Durantula?”

Sports stars continue to be magnets for intellectual property lawsuits. In the midst of the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant was hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit. A heavy-metal musician named Mark Durante claims the basketball player is illegally using his nickname, “Durantula.”

The lawsuit, filed in the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois, names both Durant and Nike as defendants. Durante contends he registered the “Durantula” trademark 1993 and has subsequently used the nickname as his “on-stage and performance persona” and to market “music, recordings, apparel, t-shirts, guitars, and related merchandise.”

Durante also alleges that the basketball star has ignored his repeated demands to stop using the trademark. While representatives for Durant contend the basketball star does not use the term as a nickname, the suit alleges that he uses the nickname on his Twitter account and sells basketballs signed “Durantula” through his website. Nike also named its Durant-inspired shoe design “Durantula,” according to the complaint.

While Durante may have registered the trademark and used the nickname for twenty years, he will still have to demonstrate a “likelihood of confusion,” which the ultimate test of trademark infringement.  Given that the two “Durantulas” come from very different worlds it is arguable that consumers can easily tell the difference.

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