Sports Promoter Says Nike & Hall of Fame|Cut Side Deal for Michael Jordan’s Induction

     DEDHAM, Mass. (CN) – SportsFuzion has sued Nike and the basketball Hall of Fame, claiming that after the Hall of Fame granted it an exclusive contract to license and market the hoopla that will surround Michael Jordan’s induction into the Hall this September, the Hall went behind its back and cut its own deal with Nike.

     SportFuzion, based in Millis, Mass., says the principal reason it sought its licensing deal with the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame was to take advantage of the events that will surround Jordan’s induction on Sept. 11 this year. And it claims that “this topic was discussed extensively between the parties prior to entering into the March 1, 2006 license agreement.”
     It claims the agreement gave SportsFuzion a license to use the “names, logos, trademarks, designs, phrases of or associated with the Hall of Fame … and all photography owned by the Hall of Fame or contained within the archives of the Hall of Fame.” It claims the Hall granted it “a worldwide, sole and exclusive license to the HoF Rights and the photo rights in connection with the manufacture, distribution, promotion, advertisement and sale of all apparel including, but not limited to, warm-up jackets, jackets, warm-up pants, pants, warm-up jerseys, sweaters, uniform tops, uniform shorts, uniform pants, underwear, caps, hats, wristbands, headbands, socks, shoes, bags, backpacks, bathing suits and elastic bands.”
     SportFuzion then began negotiating with Adidas/Reebok, Nike, and others for rights to promotions associated with Jordan’s induction, hired a designed to create a line of goods and raised money to support the campaign. It claims Nike initially expressed interest, and it provided the company with a copy of its licensing agreement with the Hall of Fame. But in late November 2007, SportFuzion says, Nike declined, and said it had “decided not to pursue this opportunity.”
     “In truth, Nike’s representations were untrue as it instead pursued an exclusive marketing campaign around Michael Jordan’s induction directly with the Hall of Fame,” the complaint states. “Indeed, on information and belief, Nike induced the Hall of Fame to improperly repudiate its contract with SportFuzion. The conduct was done with the specific purpose of striking a deal directly with the Hall of Fame.”
     SportFuzion claims that the Hall then refused or failed to obtain “any of the necessary rights from either the Hall of Fame players listed on the agreement or the teams for which these Hall of Fame players once played.”
     SportFuzion demands damages for fraud, deceptive trade, tortious interference and breach of contract. It is represented in Norfolk County Court by Michael Bunis with Fish & Richardson of Boston.
     Nike had $18.6 billion in revenue in 2008, according to the complaint. It has 30,000 direct employees, and employs another 80,000 at its nearly 700 factories worldwide.

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