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Love it or hate it, Tebow-Mania is invading New York. Quarterback Tim Tebow, whose popularity soared last year as he led the Denver Broncos on an improbable run from a 1 and 4 record to a playoff win over the Steelers, was traded to the New York Jets on March 21, 2012.
Within days of the trade, Reebok, a unit of Adidas AG, began selling Jets Jerseys and t-shirts with Tebow’s name and number. This caught the attention of Nike Inc., who promptly filed suit against Reebok, seeking to enjoin them from distributing the apparel. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleged violations of the Lanham act and misappropriation of rights of publicity among the causes of action. In the complaint, Nike argued that “Tebow’s trade to the New york Jets, coupled with the franchise’s location within the NFL’s largest market and the nation’s media center, has created enormous demand for Tebow-identified New York Jets Apparel. Reebok has sought to take advantage of this unique short-lived opportunity by supplying, without authorization or license, Tebow-identified New York Jets apparel. . . .” On March 29th, one day after Nike’s filing, the court issued a temporary restraining order requiring Reebok to stop selling Jets-Tebow items.
The trade and dispute arose during a time of transition in the NFL: Reebok’s ten year license to sell NFL player-themed apparel expired on March 1st. Meanwhile Nike took over supplying NFL gear when its new five year license began on April 1st. During the transition, Reebok would be allowed to sell existing supplies of player-related items, but would not be able to produce new ones.
During arguments, Reebok argued that it should be able to place Tebow’s name and number on its existing supply of blank Jets attire. Nevertheless, on April 4th, Judge P. Kevin Castel extended the initial injunction, stating that allowing Reebok to sell Tebow items interfered with Nike’s “opportunity to associate itself” with Tebow.
On April 10th Reebok and Nike settled, with Reebok giving up its effort to sell Jets-Tebow apparel and agreeing to buy back apparel that had already been shipped. Nike’s new Jets-Tebow jerseys won’t be available till April 26th (but can be pre-ordered here).
Tebow fans: Are you upset that you have to wait to get your new Tebow Jerseys? Do you think Mark Sanchez has ordered one? What week do you think Tebow takes over the starting job?
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