Although Tim Tebow is no longer a Denver Broncos quarterback his name is still a hot commodity among apparel buyers, according to a new lawsuit filed by Nike Inc. Shortly after the quarterback was traded to the New York Jets, Nike replaced Reebok as the supplier of the National Football League team uniforms. The lawsuit claims that Reebok International Inc. used Tebow's name on New York Jets team apparel without licensing permission.
The business dispute, which seeks unspecified damages, revolves around the timing of the trade and the marketing and sales of NFL team apparel. Nike plans on unveiling its new uniforms for all 32 NFL teams this week which will start their five year contract as the exclusive providers of all NFL on-field game uniforms and sideline apparel. Reebok had been the exclusive provider for the last ten-years.
The suit claims that since Tebow was traded it has sparked a demand for Tebow-related merchandise in a normally slow time for NFL merchandise. Nike claims that Reebok was shipping large quantities of products to retailers for sale this week and in doing so is damaging Nike's ability to capitalize on a short-lived and rather unique opportunity after such a major trade. The suit also states that it is unlikely that buyers of the unauthorized merchandise will purchase a Nike branded, authorized product next week.
There was no report on Reebok selling new Denver Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning-related merchandise, which one might think could have just as much of a demand as Tebow merchandise.
Business litigation can be costly to a small business owner as well as large corporations. Contract and licensing disputes such as this one can be complex and difficult to defend. The question to ask in this particular business dispute is when did Reebok's licensing end and Nike's begin? Did Reebok have the right to capitalize on the much-hyped trade, or did it jump the gun and rush merchandise to market anticipating a cease and desist order from the NFL?
If your business needs help determining if you have a business dispute, or if your business has been sued for breach of contract, contact an experienced business law attorney to discuss your case and learn what steps you can take to protect your rights.
Source: Boston.com, "Nike sues Reebok in NYC over Tebow apparel," Larry Neumesiter, Mar. 29, 2012