|Nike's 'Freestyle' is both a commercial and a music video.
The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in New York, charges unfair competition and also names Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., the agency that created the ads for Nike.
Game Over, a minority-owned sportswear business in New York, claims that "Shakin" is a "form of modern street dance mixed with basketball dribbling, which was designed to aid in the marketing and selling of Game Over's athletic sportswear."
Contests and promotions
The company claims it developed the dance in 1998 and promoted it and its products with Shakin contests organized with New York City youth groups and at high school tournaments. The contests, along with Game Over founder Eric Hicks, a former basketball player at St. Bonaventure University, were subsequently featured on Fox Network's Good Day New York and in a local CBS News report.
"Game Over is a small business that can't afford the millions needed to hire professional athletes to pitch their products," said Frederick Tecce, Game Over's lawyer, in a statement. "They devised a cost-efficient way to market their goods by sponsoring tournaments and the Shakin contests. Now, Nike comes along with all their billions and wipes out that unique thrust of Game Over's program."
Top NBA stars
The 60-second Nike ad, which is currently in competition at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, features NBA players Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors, Darius Miles and Lamar Odom, of the Los Angeles Clippers, Rasheed Wallace of the Portland Trailblazers, Jason Williams of the Sacramento Kings.
"On the chance that the case is not thrown out by a judge before reaching trial," a Nike spokesman said, "we look forward to defending our position in court. We emphatically deny engaging in unfair competition or otherwise violating anyone's rights, including Game Over's."