Independent music label Dischord Records has forced sportswear giant Nike Inc to apologise for unlawfully using artwork from a punk-rock record cover in a promotional campaign for skateboarding apparel.

The design in question was used for a record by Washington-based band Minor Threat in 1981, and features a two-tone image of a youth wearing a trench coat.

Dischord said: "Nike never contacted Dischord to obtain permission to use this imagery, nor was any permission granted. Simply put, Nike stole it and we're not happy about it."

In a statement posted on the Nike skateboarding website yesterday, the company responded: "Because of the album's strong imagery, we felt that it was a perfect fit.

"This was a poor judgment call and should not have been executed without consulting Minor Threat and Dischord Records...Every effort has been made to remove and dispose of all flyers."

Dischord has not yet filed a lawsuit against Nike.