Nike OK’d to Continue Using “Jumpman” Logo

On February 27, 2018 the Ninth Circuit ruled that Nike’s use of its iconic “Jumpman” logo did not infringe on copyrights to a 1984 image of Michael Jordan, as captured by photographer Jacobus Rentmeester. Following more than three years of litigation — and though the decision was split — Nike may continue to use the image without legal repercussions. Rentmeester originally shot and used the image of Jordan in a mid-air, “grand jeté-inspired pose,” which was featured in a 1984 issue of Life
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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision, China’s highest court recently ruled in favor of Michael Jordan, holding that he owns the legal rights to the Chinese characters of the equivalent of his name. Jordan sued Qiaodan Sports Company, alleging that it built a brand by putting the Mandarin transliteration of his name on its sportswear. Jordan never gave permission for this use of his name and he has no connection with Qiaodan Sports. The high court overturned the lower courts, which…
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Nike Files Opening Brief in Ninth Circuit “Jumpman” Appeal

On Friday, November 27, 2015, Nike filed its brief urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold the dismissal of allegations that Nike Inc.’s “Jumpman” logo was an improper reproduction of a picture taken of Michael Jordan by plaintiff photographer. The plaintiff photographer, Jacobus Rentmeester, originally took his photograph of Michael Jordan in 1984, and sold it to LIFE Magazine. At the photo-shoot, he captured one of the most well-known pictures of Jordan. He alleges that Nike paid $150 for the use of the negatives from that…
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Michael Jordan Reaches Settlement with Supermarket Chain

Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls superstar, recently settled a lawsuit against two supermarket chains that engaged in the unauthorized use of his likeness. Jordan brought suit against the two Chicago grocery chains — Dominick’s and Jewel Osco— back in 2010 after the supermarkets included advertisements in a Sports Illustrated issue that misused Jordan’s name and likeness. Both ad’s made unauthorized references to Michael Jordan and in response, the basketball legend brought suit seeking $10 million for each ad. In August, a jury verdict was…
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The Power of Endorsement Deals: Is Equity the New Compensation?

Professional athletes are becoming brands; walking, talking brands. Their success on the playing field adds value to their brand. Ultimately, companies want to use the athlete’s brand to sell their product; this gives birth to an endorsement contract. Companies pay huge sums of money for athletes to promote their products. The more powerful an athlete’s brand is, the more money a company is willing to pay to get their products in that athlete’s hands. Athletes earning potential in the endorsement arena is limitless; simply the…
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MJ and Chicago Grocer in Settlement Talks

On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, an Illinois federal judge told Michael Jordan and Jewel Food Stores, Inc. that both sides will benefit from settling their right of publicity suit. The lawsuit arose out of an advertisement placed in Sports Illustrated. The advertisement featured text congratulating Jordan on his introduction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, a pair of basketball shoes portraying Jordan’s Number 23, and Jewel’s own logo. Jordan brought suit against Jewel alleging that Jewel used his likeness without permission in the…
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Jordan Awarded $8.9 Million in Advertising Dispute

On Friday, August 21, the six year legal battle between Michael Jordan and now-defunct Chicago-area supermarket, Dominick’s, has finally ended with Jordan securing yet another victory. A federal court jury in Chicago returned a verdict in Jordan’s favor, awarding him $8.9 million for the unauthorized use of his brand.  The litigation, lasting six years, stemmed from an ad run in the 2009 commemorative Sports Illustrated magazine, celebrating Jordan’s induction into the hall of fame.  The advertisement included a congratulatory statement to Jordan in addition to…
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Don’t Approach MJ for Endorsement Deal Unless You’ve Got $10M in Your Pocket

Michael Jordan is a man who may not be an expert in running a basketball team but seems to know how to capitalize on his name, image, or likeness. Jordan’s advisor Estee Portnoy testified that for a business proposal to reach Jordan’s desk, the deal must be at least $10 million. Portnoy also said that rather than signing on a one-time use, Jordan typically bundles up his image rights and endorsements into a package to protect the value of his brand. Portnoy testified on…
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Grocer Calls Foul, Argues for Sanctions Against Michael Jordan

On Monday, July 27, Jewel Food Stores Inc. told an Illinois federal judge that Michael Jordan and his attorneys should be sanctioned in his right of publicity suit.  The lawsuit arose when Jordan accused the grocery chain of using his likeness without his permission in an ad featured in Sports Illustrated, and according to Jewel, Jordan has violated the court’s order to stop repeatedly asking for judgment. In its response brief, Jewel argued that Jordan’s opposition to proposed jury instructions violates a court order that…
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