Well, Tim Tebow's name is everywhere else in New York ... why shouldn't it be in Nike Inc v. Reebok International, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York No. 12-2275? That's the official name of the complaint filed by sportswear giant Nike against sportswear giant Reebok. Nike, who becomes the official manufacturer of NFL merchandise and player apparel on April 1, claims that Reebok, whose similar deal with the NFL expired before March 1, manufactured replica jerseys with Tebow's name and number in a misappropriation of Nike's rights.
The lawsuit, dated March 27 and made public on Wednesday, claims that Reebok "has no authorization from Mr. Tebow or anyone else to use Mr. Tebow's name or other identification on such Jets product.
"Reebok has taken upon itself to illegitimately seize on this unique and short-lived consumer opportunity ... in order to capitalize on the public's short-lived intense consumer appetite for such products, and to prevent Nike from doing so."
There are two ways a company can legally manufacture merchandise with a player's likeness or other well-known attachments, such as replica jerseys with names and numbers -- either enter into an agreement with the player, or come to terms with NFL Players, Inc. as part of a group of companies licensed to do so.
Nike claims in the lawsuit that Reebok holds no such group arrangement, and that a Tebow representative wrote to Reebok on March to demand that the manufacture of Tebow jerseys be discontinued.
Of course, Reebok could claim that it had an unusual run on Scotty McKnight jerseys, and they just got the name on the back wrong.
McKnight, a seventh-round pick of the Jets in 2011 and a boyhood friend of quarterback Mark Sanchez, wore No. 15 for the Jets last season. Not that he made a big impact with the number -- he was sent to the practice squad and then the injured-reserve list. McKnight was re-signed by the Jets on March 27; perhaps as a move to ease Sanchez's worried mind. More impressively, McKnight found time to date Hayden Panettiere.
Nike will unveil its new NFL uniforms in a ceremony next week in New York, and Shutdown Corner will be there to cover the event.
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