Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jordan Gives Grocery Chains the Air

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  Michael Jordan is announc...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
"I wanna sue like Mike."

Basketball legend Michael Jordan has an usual way of expressing his gratitude. When Sports Illustrated published a commemorative issue, Jordan: Celebrating a Hall of Fame Career, honoring the All-Star guard who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships, local supermarket giants Jewel Food Stores, Inc., and Dominick's Finer Foods, LLC each paid for a full-page ad in the magazine congratulating Air Jordan.

Jordan was moved by the gesture, all the way to Cook County Circuit Court, where he filed separate suits against the grocers on December 21. The cases, Michael Jordan & Jump 23, Inc. v. Dominicks Finer Foods, LLC (No. 2009LO15548) and Michael Jordan v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc. (No. 2009LO15549), view the congratulatory ads as an unauthorized attempt to link the basketball great to their supermarkets.

The suits include claims for trademark infringement under Sec. 32 of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. sec. 1114),  False Endorsement, False Designation of Origin, and Dilution under Sec. 43 of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. sec. 1125(a)(c)), unfair competition, violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act (765 ILCS 1075/1-60), and violation of the Illiniois Consumer Fraud & Trade Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/2 et seq.).

Jordan, who holds a registered trademark on his name, went after Dominick's for its ad, the top half of which featured his trademark number 23 and words of congratulations, while the bottom half sported a coupon for a Ranchers Reserve steak, which Jordan claims directly competes with steakhouses that bear his name as well as a direct mail steak company. The Jewel ad depicts a pair of Air Jordan sneakers with the number 23 on the tongues and includes words of praise, along with Jewel's "just around the corner" slogan.

The suits seek attorneys' fees, unspecified damages, and to prevent the grocers from using Jordan's name in future ads. "TUOL" will keep you posted as information on the case dribbles in.
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1 comment:

  1. The unsuccessful baseball player/golfer/gambler who used to play a little basketball has too much time and too many lawyers. The "air" of "Air Jordan" is beginning to look like pettifog-gery.