Attorney-Businessman Sues NBA ‘Monolith’

     (CN) – The National Basketball Association restrained trade by killing a drinking cup deal, an attorney-businessman claims in court.
     Bruce H. Singman sued NBA Properties the Tervis Tumbler Co., in Los Angeles Superior Court.
     Singman claims he had a deal with Tervis to produce tumblers – cups to keep hot drinks hot or cold – a NBA, NFL and racing figures, as part of his “All Pro Sports” series.
     Singman tumblers were to feature a player’s picture, autograph and statistics – all of which Singman claims he has a right to use through the All Pro Sports series.
     But Singman claims that Joe Kivett, Tervis’ category manager for sports and entertainment licensing, expressed concern that producing the tumblers without contacting the NBA could hurt Tervis’ relationship with the NBA.
     Kivett is not named as a defendant.
     After contacting the NBA, Kivett and Tervis terminated the tumbler deal, Singman says in the complaint. He claims that Kivett said the NBA took issue with the use of former NBA players on the tumblers.
     “The NBA’s conduct and/or statement to Tervis employees, including Kivett, amounts to a restraint on trade with no purpose other than to stifle competition in the lucrative, commercial exploitation of merchandise relating to professional basketball players and it is clearly evident that plaintiff and the NBA are competitors in the business of exploiting the marketability of sports licensed merchandise and that the NBA acted without justification or the privilege of fair competition in its efforts to stifle such competition,” the complaint states. “The monolith that is the NBA and its position as licensor to Tervis of valuable rights to the use of the NBA marks and logo and the NBA team marks and logos coupled with its wrongful and unlawful conduct was certain to result in the interference with the prospective license agreement between plaintiff and Tervis when the NBA told Tervis that it could not use plaintiff’s designs.”
     Singman, of Pacific Palisades, seeks actual and punitive damages for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, business code violations, restraint of trade, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
     He filed the complaint pro se.

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