Nike is suing Reebok over its alleged improper use of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow's name on its apparel, according to a lawsuit filing.
Reebok had an exclusive licensing apparel deal with the NFL for the past 10 years, but that deal officially expires on April 1st when Nike takes over as the NFL's primary apparel partner. Nike's main claim is that it acquired the rights to the NFL Players on March 1st, which is why Reebok would be allowed to sell pre-existing jerseys but wouldn't be able to sell a Tebow Jets jersey because the deal happened after the beginning of the month.
Nike is especially afraid that Reebok will reel in the sales of eager Jets and Tebow fans before its jerseys hit the market in late April. The world's number one apparel company has had an exclusive rights deal with Tebow since 2010.
The opportunity to sell the first Tebow-identified Jets apparel is a unique and short-lived opportunity, the lawsuit reads. It is unlikely that a consumer who purchases an unauthorized Tebow-identified NFL jersey or t-shirt from Reebok will purchase an authorized Tebow Jersey or t-shirt from Nike the following week.
The lawsuit is seeking a restraining order against Reebok and recall of any unauthorized Tebow products that the company has produced. Reebok had rushed to produce Tebow Jets t-shirts and jerseys to stock stores such as Modell's Sporting Goods before its contract officially ran out.
...Unless restrained, Reebok's distribution of unauthorized Tebow-identified Jets apparel will preclude Nike and its licensors from fully realizing the unique opportunity presented by the convergence of the Tebow trade to the Jets and the announcement of the new Nike NFL uniform.
Tebow, one of the most popular quarterbacks in the NFL, represents a potential cash cow for either Reebok or Nike. He had the second-highest jersey sales in 2011 and is expected to sell a lot of Jets jerseys, according to Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising.