Nike Air Jordan’s. Nike’s line of athletic wear – developed with the “Jumpman” image of basketball legend Michael Jordan – has become iconic. Now, well-respected photographer Jacobus Rentmeester claims that Nike created the logo using a picture he took of Jordan for a special issue of LIFE magazine for the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Shortly after publication, Nike paid Rentmeester $150,00 with the intention to use it as a part of company presentations. Shortly after, Nike recreated a similar photo of Jordan jumping in front of the Chicago skyline. This photo eventually led to the Jumpman silhouette.
Rentmeester states he had retained the copyright on the image, despite working under contract for LIFE magazine, and is now suing Nike for copyright infringement, claiming that he (Rentmeester) created an original pose which was not reflective of Jordan’s natural jump or dunking style.
For over half an hour Rentmeester guided Jordan to leap unnaturally and hold the ball using his nontraditional left hand. This process required persistence and repeated attempts, as it was not something Jordan had done before. These efforts established the distinctive and original elements of the copyrighted photo, says the photographer.
Years after Michael Jordan has retired from basketball, the brand still earns significant revenue for Nike. The deal in 1984 was a slam dunk: Nike sold $100 million worth of Air Jordan shoes in the first year. In 2014 alone Jordan products generated $3.2 billion in retail sales. Rentmeester is looking for a piece of this big pie.