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The Hoop Doctors

Nike, NBA HOF, and Leroy Smith Sued Over Michael Jordan Products

June 24, 2009 – Dr. Anklesnap

News is just being released about a lawsuit being laid by SportsFuzion, Inc. against Nike, the NBA Hall of Fame and Leroy Smith over the manufacturing and sale of Michael Jordan Hall of Fame sportswear. Here is some text for your laughter and enjoyment of the press release announcing the lawsuit:

Boston, MA, June 24, 2009 ­ SportsFuzion, Inc., a sportswear company and the exclusive licensee of the Basketball Hall of Fame¹s sportswear has filed a lawsuit in Norfolk Superior Court in Massachusetts against NIKE, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) and the NBA Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alleging breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, fraud, and other counts for general and punitive damages. The lawsuit comes after NIKE and the Hall of Fame conspired to eliminate SportsFuzion by manufacturing, marketing, and selling sportswear related to Michael Jordan¹s upcoming Hall of Fame induction. Since 2006, SportsFuzion has been the owner of the exclusive worldwide rights to the Hall of Fame¹s trade names, logos, trademarks, designs, and photos for use in sportswear.

Leveraging Michael Jordan¹s highly anticipated Hall of Fame induction, NIKE will release its Air Jordan Hall of Fame (HOF) Collection into the market this summer. NIKE recently launched a major campaign to promote these products. This campaign includes the website featuring several videos of the fictitious character Leroy Smith­ who supposedly inspired Michael Jordan to greatness. It is estimated that NIKE could sell over $100 million of Michael Jordan Hall of Fame products worldwide.

Beginning in 2005, legal teams for SportsFuzion and the Hall of Fame spent nearly a year negotiating the exclusive worldwide licensing agreement. More than three years ago, SportsFuzion created the concept and a detailed marketing plan around a product line for Michael Jordan¹s induction into the Hall of Fame. ³In 2005, I knew that Michael Jordan¹s induction would be the biggest event in the Hall of Fame¹s history and, like his impact on the NBA and the game of basketball, this product opportunity was enormous,² said Andrew Mirken, president and co-founder of SportsFuzion.

³SportsFuzion was built around my love and passion for basketball and my admiration for Michael Jordan, said Mirken, who has coached high school boys basketball for almost 20 years. Having the opportunity to work with Michael Jordan and all of the great athletes in the Hall of Fame was the dream of my lifetime. Having NIKE and the Hall of Fame go behind our backs to cut us out of the deal has become my worst nightmare.

SportsFuzion, Inc. is a Massachusetts-based sportswear company that owns the exclusive worldwide rights to the Basketball Hall of Fame’s trade names, logos, trademarks, designs, and photos for use in sportswear. SportsFuzion is represented in this matter by Fish & Richardson, the largest intellectual property law firm in the world.

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  • So I’m not sure what the big deal is…Nike’s not allowed to celebrate their greatest athlete of all-time making the Hall-of-Fame because they have some “exclusive” rights? I’m pretty sure Nike’s not that dumb that they would try to sell some official Hall-of-Fame gear that would conflict with that agreement.

    In fact, aren’t the Leroy Smith commercials doing everything to promote LEROY into the hall-of-fame? LOL…they’re nuts.


  • MJ Supporter

    This company is obviously just trying to capitalize on Michael Jordan’s success and induction into the hall of fame. And that is fine as that how the business side of sports works. But they should just compete with Nike head to head instead of trying to believe they (or anyone else for that matter) should have “intellectual property rights” over Michael Jordan’s greatness.

    If anything, MJ himself should be the exclusive person to sell his Jordan brand clothes on his hall of fame induction

  • jamesisabozo

    jamEs, your a moron.

  • Edge

    A contract is a contract. They are protecting their rights which they paid for and signed a contract for. They are suing for breach of contract, which is well within their rights. Regardless of how you feel about it, it is valid complaint. Besides, who would buy some other brands shoes when they can get the “Air Jordan HOF Edition” from Nike?

    Business is business, and they are there to make a profit. Don’t buy their crap if you don’t like what they are doing, but they are well within their legal rights.

  • Michael Jordan and Nike are inextricably linked. I could see Nike suing Sportsfuzion for even thinking of creating clothes associated with Jordan. MJ practically brought Nike into the mainstream in the early 90’s.

  • mizatt

    @MJ Supporter, if they paid for exclusive rights, they should get exclusive rights. Going head to head with Nike would be a nightmare for them. That’s why they paid for these rights in the first place four years ago.

    @jamEs, yeah, you’re a moron, this is a business

  • Jay

    A hall of fame (sometimes HOF) is a type of museum established for any a field of endeavor to honor individuals of noteworthy achievement in that field.

    There are MANY “Halls of Fame” : Astronaut, Avation, Music, Jazz, Blues, Banjo, Grammy, Polka, Mascot, Radio, Robot, along with MANY MANY Sports, and at least a few dozen more.

    SportsFuzion has the rights for the “Basketball Hall of Fame”

    Nike is creating an “Air Jordan Hall of Fame” Collection.

    SportsFuzion does NOT have the rights to the shorter more inclusive “Hall of Fame” name. But they seem to be linking “Air Jordan” to mean “Basketball”.

    As long as Nike doesn’t add “Basketball” to their “Air Jordan Hall of Fame” then SportsFuzion will not win this case.

    Jordan does not have an exclusive contract with the Hall of Fame nor does he have one with the NBA anymore. Nike does need to get anyones approval for what they wish to make… only the wording they use.

  • MJ Supporter

    @Jay – YOu should be the legal defense for Nike. That makes a lot of sense. “Air Jordan Hall of Fame” is not necessarily “NBA Hall of Fame”.

    Jordan should step in and tell them both to eat it, and make a crap load of money marketing the products himself.

  • Michael Jordan is a class act. I hope they resolve this quickly and not drag his brand into something unsavoury.

  • yoyo