Spieth Seeks to Quash Subpoena in Under Armour Shoe Case

Jordan Spieth argues in a new court filing he should not have to comply with a subpoena served by Athalonz, a golf shoe company suing Under Armour for patent infringement. Through his attorneys, Spieth contends he shouldn’t have to turn over documents and sit for a deposition when the case involves design features of the soles of shoes—a topic for which he says he lacks any relevant knowledge.

Last year Athalonz sued Under Armour in a Texas federal court for alleged infringement of patents. Under Armour denies the allegations and maintains the Athalonz asserted patents are invalid. The case centers on technical aspects of footwear including, among other things, materials related to the compressibility and arrangement of the soles. Spieth is not a party to the litigation, but Athalonz believes he is in possession of documents and knows facts that are essential to its case.

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Under Armour markets a line of golf products under the Jordan Spieth Collection moniker. Spieth, whose Official World Golf Ranking is currently 12th but has been as high as first, signed with Under Armour in 2013 after turning pro. According to, Spieth’s Under Armour deal runs through 2029.

In his court filing Tuesday, Spieth underscores his relationship with Under Armour is strictly promotional. He is “not an owner, officer, director or employee” and does not “propose, design, develop, promote and sell the Under Armour footwear that is marketed in connection with Jordan Spieth by Under Armour.”

Spieth also insists he lacks any “involvement in the design or development of the specific features of the Spieth products accused of infringement,” such as the soles’ “shape, construction[,] technical aspects [and] materials.” He also says he can’t speak knowledgeably about “the market for golf shoes generally” or the “comparative values or benefits” of the shoes at issue.

As Spieth sees it, Athalonz’ demand for his involvement is “intrusive” especially since (he contends) Athalonz could secure the same information directly from Under Armour and its employees. According to court filings, Under Armour has produced or agreed to produce technical, marketing, development, testing, sales and other documents related to the allegations and Spieth.

Spieth’s deposition has been noticed for Feb. 20, in Sherman, Texas. He contends sitting for the deposition would be “burdensome” given his “extensive commitments as a professional golfer.” His court filing underscores his “demanding schedule of PGA Tour events,” which necessitates travel across the U.S. and world. Spieth also stresses that his profession demands “numerous hours each week” on training and practice.

Spieth relies on cases involving other celebrities who endorsed products and were then subpoenaed. About six years ago, Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry convinced a federal court in California to quash a subpoena in a trademark infringement case against Under Armour. A federal judge concluded Curry’s involvement in the design of Under Armour products was “at best of marginal relevance.”

A 2014 trade dress case involving actress Jane Seymour is also invoked in Spieth’s motion. Seymour was identified as a “codesigner” of a company’s “swank bedroom collection,” but a judge squashed a subpoena since Seymour lacked information about the product’s functionality and other technical topics.

Athletes’ endorsements have sparked several legal controversies over the last year. Most notably, the collapse of crypto exchange FTX and subsequent criminal proceedings against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried led to FTX customers suing such celebrity endorsers as Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Naomi Osaka, Shohei Ohtani and Curry. The basic claim is that the celebrities unlawfully duped fans into buying unregistered securities.

Athalonz attorneys will have an opportunity to respond to Spieth’s motion, which will be decided by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III. Mazzant’s name might be familiar. He played a key role in New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott’s litigation over a six-game suspension while a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.

Although Elliott ultimately lost to the NFL, Mazzant agreed with Elliott that missing games meant he was “deprived of the ability to achieve individual successes and honors.” The judge found missing games especially concerning given the “short and precarious” nature of pro athletes’ careers. Considering Spieth’s argument to quash the subpoena is partly based on the value of his time to play pro sports at an elite level, perhaps his justification will resonate with Mazzant.

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