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Nike Sues Reebok over Using Tim Tebow’s Name and Number
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Nike Inc sued Reebok in a U.S. District Court on Tuesday alleging that Reebok is trying illegal marketing attempts cashing on the reputation and popularity of Tim Tebow, the popular NFL quarterback. Nike has accused Reebok of using Tim Tebow’s name and number on New York Jets iconic green T-shirts without obtaining due permission from Nike. Nike further alleged that Reebok is trying to capitalize on “short-lived intense consumer appetite for such products,” following Tebow’s joining the Jets from Denver Broncos last week.

Tebow is currently one of the most charismatic figures in NFL who is revered not only for his sportsmanship, but also for his open allegiance to evangelical Christian faith on the playing field. His pose on the field has come to be known as “Tebowing” and his Bronocos No. 15 jersey was one of the top selling items in the National Football League.

Nike claimed that it has an agreement with Tebow that authorizes and licenses Nike to use Tebow’s name on football-related products, and is seeking compensatory, as well as punitive damages from Reebok.


In its lawsuit, Nike also accused that Reebok had undermined an event scheduled for April 3 in New York to mark Nike’s five-year deal as the exclusive provider of shoes and on-field garments to all 32 NFL teams.

Nike alleged that there are only two legal ways by which Reebok could acquire the rights to use Tebow’s name and number on its merchandise: first by obtaining the rights directly from the player, or by obtaining a “group license” with NFL Players Inc, the licensing department of NFL Players Association.

Nike said that it holds licenses with both the players and their union and that Reebok did not possess an individual agreement with Tebow, “nor did it obtain his permission to or consent to the manufacture of Tebow Jets product.”

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Reebok’s license with the player’s union had expired before March 1, while Tebow did not become a Jets player until March 21. The lawsuit further informed that even the expired license that Reebok had with the union pertained only to Denver Broncos apparel.

The lawsuit also stated that a Tebow representative had requested Reebok in writing on March 23 to discontinue using Tebow’s name and remove the infringing products from the market.

The case is Nike Inc v Reebok International, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York No. 12-2275.



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