New York, NY – The Southern District of New York recently issued an injunction in a case involving the trademark rights to NFL player Tim Tebow’s name and jersey. Trademark attorneys for Nike, Inc of Beaverton, Oregon, had filed a Trademark infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of New York alleging that Reebok, International Ltd of Canton, Massachusetts infringed Tebow’s trademarks by producing and selling jerseys and other products bearing the Tebow marks. The complaint stated that Nike had an exclusive license to produce Tebow products bearing the Tebow marks. The complaint alleges that following the Denver Bronco’s trade of Tebow to the New York Jets, Reebok tried to take advantage of the high demand for Tebow’s Jets jersey by offering and selling unlicensed Tebow products.
On April 9, 2012, the court approved a final judgment that recognized Nike, Inc. was awarded the sole rights to the license–including the manufacture, distribution, and sale–of Tim Tebow merchandise, retroactive February 28, 2012, affiliated with the New York Jets. The court order defined Unauthorized Tebow Product as “an NFL-related jersey or t-shirt product sold or distributed by, manufactured by or for, or in the possession or control of Defendant Reebok International Ltd. . . . with the name Tebow affixed to the product after February 28, 2012.” The definition specifically targets any Tebow merchandise produced with his new team, the New York Jets. The terms of the court order issued prohibit Reebok from manufacturing, selling, donating, advertising or permitting any other individual or entity to do the an Unauthorized Tebow Product. Reebok was further ordered to repurchase or recall any existing Tebow merchandise already in distribution that was made after February 28, 2012.
Practice Tip: It will be interesting to see how valuable the trademark rights to number one draft pick Andrew Luck‘s jersey and his new affiliation with the Indianapolis Colts will become. Nike argued that the Tebow trademark was particularly valuable because of his high profile. He was already a prize at Stanford, and with his contract with the Colts, the trademark rights could be very valuable.