Champion Sues Nike Over Wieden’s ‘I Can’ Tagline

Champion Products is suing Nike in Canada over the rights to the “I can” phrase. In a $5 million federal suit filed last week, Champion claims it has used the phrase in its ads since late 1996.
Nike’s new “I can” campaign, developed by Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore., broke on New Year’s Day. It partially replaced “Just do it.”
The lawsuit claims that Champion first used “I can” in the U.S. in October 1996. That campaign was created by TBWA Chiat/Day in New York. Champion still uses the line in Canada, said a company representative.
“Our primary concern is that Champion [should not be able] to own a universal phrase,” said Kathryn Reith, Nike’s U.S. corporate communications chief. Wieden & Kennedy declined comment. –Andrew McMains and Jane Irene Kelly