SOURCE: SportsFuzion, Inc.

September 01, 2009 12:37 ET

NIKE and the NBA's Basketball Hall of Fame Lawsuit Over Michael Jordan Products Moves Forward

Undisclosed NIKE and Basketball Hall of Fame Contract Uncovered

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - September 1, 2009) - The lawsuit filed by SportsFuzion, Inc. against NIKE, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) and the NBA's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will move forward after a September 9, 2009 hearing after which United States District Judge William G. Young will set a discovery schedule in the case. The lawsuit against NIKE and the Hall of Fame alleges breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, fraud, and other counts for general and punitive damages. SportsFuzion filed the lawsuit on June 22, 2009 after NIKE and the Hall of Fame allegedly conspired to eliminate SportsFuzion from the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of sportswear related to Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction on September 11, 2009. SportsFuzion owns the exclusive worldwide rights to the Hall of Fame's trade names, logos, trademarks, designs, and photos including the term "Hall of Fame" and the letters "HOF" for use in all basketball sportswear, including footwear.

NIKE is releasing its Air Jordan Hall of Fame (HOF) Collection this week, which is made up of four different styles of NIKE's (Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 3, Air Jordan 2009, and the Six Rings). Earlier this summer, NIKE also created a multi-million dollar sales and marketing campaign including a fictional character named Leroy Smith to promote these products and Jordan's entrance into the Hall of Fame (www.getyourbasketballon.com). All of these products directly violate SportsFuzion's exclusive worldwide rights and contract.

Despite its exclusive licensing agreement with SportsFuzion, the Hall of Fame negotiated a contract granting NIKE "rights to use all Basketball Hall of Fame logos and marks for Leroy Smith." When first, and repeatedly, asked about the existence of an agreement with NIKE, the Hall of Fame adamantly denied any deals or contracts. However, the Hall of Fame's attorneys recently provided SportsFuzion with a copy of its undisclosed contract with NIKE and in a letter to SportsFuzion, claimed that the "Leroy Smith marketing/advertising campaign does not involve the promotion of the sale of shoes and/or other apparel in any respect" and thus "would not create any potential conflict with any rights that might be held by SportsFuzion." In spite of this, John Doleva, CEO/President of the Hall of Fame, continues to deny the existence of a commercial relationship between NIKE and the Hall of Fame.

"For the Hall of Fame to claim that the Leroy Smith campaign is not about the promotion of NIKE products is simply mind-boggling. The Leroy Smith campaign was created for one purpose only -- to market and sell NIKE's Michael Jordan Hall of Fame Collection," said Andrew Mirken, president and co-founder of SportsFuzion. "How can the Hall of Fame pretend that the Leroy Smith campaign is not designed to promote the sale of NIKE products when we've seen the Leroy Smith video commercials being played in numerous retail locations. Clearly, the Leroy Smith campaign is part of a calculated commercial plan to create advance buzz for the NIKE Air Jordan Hall of Fame Collection. In fact, the contract between NIKE and the Hall of Fame expressly states that NIKE will indemnify the Hall of Fame for any claims made relating to products bearing the Hall of Fame marks licensed by NIKE. This clearly violates the terms of SportsFuzion's agreement with the Hall of Fame."

"We believe that this contract between NIKE and the Hall of Fame is just the tip of the iceberg, and the NBA must be really embarrassed by this whole ordeal. The next steps of this lawsuit, referred to as discovery, will yield more information about the development of the Hall of Fame Collection and about the back door negotiations that were done with the express intent of circumventing SportsFuzion's exclusive licensing deal with the Hall of Fame," said Steve Barlow, co-founder, lead investor and SportsFuzion Board Director. "We want this product line to be hugely successful and to receive our fair share."

SportsFuzion, Inc., a Massachusetts-based sportswear company, has owned the exclusive worldwide rights to the Basketball Hall of Fame's trade names, logos, trademarks, designs, and photos for use in sportswear since 2006. SportsFuzion is represented in this matter by Fish & Richardson, the largest intellectual property law firm in the world.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Amy Blumenthal/Elizabeth Dierze
    Blumenthal & Associates PR
    617-879-1511