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NIKE TRADEMARK BATTLE IN SPAIN GETS USTR ASSIST

 NIKE TRADEMARK BATTLE IN SPAIN GETS USTR ASSIST
 BEAVERTON, Ore., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Office of the


U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday placed Spain on a "watch list" of countries that deny effective protection to U.S. trademarks, citing the continuing refusal of Spanish courts to let Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE; PSE) market or distribute its sports apparel in Spain.
 Since uncovering fraud and terminating its licensing and distribution agreements with the Spanish firm Cidesport S.A. in 1989, Nike has been barred by a series of Spanish court decisions from selling or marketing genuine Nike sports apparel in Spain, despite holding valid trademark registrations in Spain for that product category. The courts' actions do not effect Nike's rights to sell and market Nike athletic footwear and accessories in Spain. Nike products have been sold and marketed in Spain since 1981.
 Nike's petition to U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills in early April was supported by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's trade subcommittee, Oregon Senators Mark Hatfield and Robert Packwood, and Sen. William Cohen of Maine, who, after review of the case, asked the USTR to consider placing Spain on the watch list.
 While Nike has been prevented by court injunction from selling or marketing its apparel products in Spain, Cidesport has itself advertised and sold apparel bearing a "NIKE" mark. In many cases Cidesport, which currently distributes and markets L.A. Gear footwear, has sold items of bogus "NIKE" apparel that are exact copies of genuine apparel Nike sells in other European markets. Cidesport advertising has consistently used "NIKE" in a box whose shape and colors are similar to Nike Inc.'s trademarks, and otherwise replicated Nike's own worldwide corporate identity.
 "We are pleased that Ambassador Hills has recognized the need to single out Spain as a country that has not offered the protection and support our valid trademarks deserve," said Richard K. Donahue, president and chief operating officer of Nike Inc. "Over the past three years, in the Spanish courts and in the marketplace, our rights to operate as a brand in Spain have been trampled under. Our goods have been seized from bonded warehouses; our country manager harassed, read his rights and summoned before a criminal court to defend Nike's movement of products within the free trade zone; and the courts, which have prohibited Nike from selling apparel, have ignored the very basis of Spanish trademark and procedural law."
 Among numerous violations of its own civil court procedures, Spanish courts judging the issue have:
 -- issued an injunction barring Nike from selling or marketing apparel, without first giving Nike's representatives the opportunity to be heard on the issue, in violation of Spain's own civil procedures;
 -- refused to recognize Nike's absolute right under Spanish procedural law to post a bond, which would have protected Nike from permanent harm should the court ultimately rule in Nike's favor;
 -- refused on appeal to overturn the obviously flawed lower court ruling, citing lack of evidence that Nike is engaged in "commercial activity," ignoring the existence of a Nike marketing, sales and distribution operation in Spain for each of the previous 12 years.
 While the Spanish court's injunction against Nike selling and marketing apparel stands -- pending a hearing on the merits of the matter -- Nike continues to lose opportunities in Spain to grow its business in parallel with the rest of Western Europe. Demand for Nike footwear, apparel and accessories in the third quarter of fiscal year 1992 alone grew 59 percent in Germany, 38 percent in Italy and 30 percent in France.
 Nike Inc., the world's largest sports and fitness company, is headquartered in Beaverton.
 -0- 4/30/92
 /CONTACT: Dusty Kidd of Nike, 503-671-2880/
 (NKE) CO: NIKE Inc. ST: Oregon IN: HOU SU:


SM-SC -- SE012 -- 5257 04/30/92 20:31 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 30, 1992
Words:640
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