Nike & Reebok Clash Over NFL Player Rights

By iSportconnect | March 29, 2012

Heavyweight sports apparel manufacturers Nike and Reebok’s relationship took a new turn for the worse after the former accused its competitor of introducing new products bearing the name of National Football League sensation Tim Tebow, without proper authorisation.

Nike claims that it is authorised and licensed to use the name of the quarterback, and are looking to sue Reebok as a result of their actions. Nike stated in its lawsuit, which was made public on Wednesday, that Reebok has “no authorisation from Mr. Tebow or anyone else to use Mr. Tebow’s name or other identification on such Jets products”.

Nike has insisted that a company can only obtain such licensing rights with the NFL players’ union or with the player directly. Reebok had a licence with the union, but it expired before March 1, and Tebow did not join the Jets until March 21. Nike is seeking unspecified compensation and punitive damages from Reebok and the company made clear that it is seeking the profits from any sales of Tebow-related apparel.

“Reebok has taken upon itself to illegitimately seize on this unique and short-lived consumer opportunity,” Nike’s lawsuit said. The suit added that the Adidas unit was producing and selling Tebow-related Jets products “in order to capitalise on the public’s short-lived intense consumer appetite for such products, and to prevent Nike from doing so”. Tebow has sprung to prominence in recent months for his game-winning performances and also his displays of evangelical faith on the field.

A representative of Tebow wrote to Reebok on March 23 and demanded that it discontinue using his name and remove the products, the lawsuit said. The case is set to be heard in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.