Nike, the world's leading maker of sports apparel, shoes and fitness instruments, has rebuffed the claims of its German rival Adidas that it has unlawfully used Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar's images for endorsements while he was not playing for the country.
Earlier this year, Adidas hauled the Board of Cricket Control of India and Nike to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission over the latter's use of Tendulkar's image in its advertisements.
In a statement presented to the bench, Adidas said that Sachin Tendulkar was their brand ambassador since 1997 and Nike has attempted to deceive the public by indicating Sachin's brand name was with them.
According to Adidas, BCCI has a five-year contract with Nike only for the team on-field uniform. Nike had won the sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket team in 2005 with a bid of Rs. 199.66 crore (US$49.6 million), beating Reebok whose bid stood at Rs. 119.48 crore ($29.7 million) and Adidas at Rs. 127.50 crore ($31.7 million).
In 2006, Nike launched its cricket range comprising T-shirts featuring Sachin Tendulkar's name and jersey number.
The BCCI granted Nike only sponsorship and licensing rights and to carry trademarks of the batsman only while playing for the country, Adidas said, adding that its exclusive rights to use the name of Sachin Tendulkar as well as personal details of the cricket star have been violated.
However, in response, Nike has told India's anti-monopoly watchdog that it had legally secured rights from BCCI for the purpose.
In a 20-page reply to the competition commission, Nike submitted that India's cricket body had permitted the company to use Tendulkar's name and attributes.
Nike also has challenged the jurisdiction of commission over the matter, saying that the case filed by its rival was not maintainable as the issues raised arises out of contract.
The American firm said it has the right to use footage of national cricket team and even if it is violated, it was for the BCCI to take action against it.
It is an attempt to thwart the legitimate business activities of this respondent (Nike). The petitioner (Adidas) is a direct competitor of this respondent, Nike said, questioning the exclusive rights claimed by Adidas over use of the cricket star's images for promotions.