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Nike Tackles Reebok in 'Tebow-Mania' T-Shirt Lawsuit

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 28, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A "Tebow-mania" lawsuit is headed for the courts. Nike Inc. claims rival Reebok International Ltd. wrongfully used Tim Tebow's name on newly minted New York Jets apparel, in violation of Nike's licensing deal.

Nike filed its Tebow-mania lawsuit in New York federal court, after Reebok began marketing a green New York Jets T-shirt emblazoned with Tebow's name and jersey number, Reuters reports. Tebow, formerly the Denver Broncos' quarterback, signed with the Jets on March 21.

That's 20 days after Reebok's licensing deal with the NFL Players Association expired, Nike claims in its lawsuit.

Because Reebok had no license with the NFL players’ union, and no agreement with Tim Tebow himself, Reebok should destroy the shirts and fork over its unauthorized profits to Nike, the company’s Tebow-mania lawsuit asserts.

However, Reebok does have a licensing deal with NFL Properties — the league’s merchandising arm — through March 31, USA Today reports. It’s not clear how that affects Nike’s claims; a spokeswoman for Adidas, which owns Reebok, declined to comment.

Nike’s legal argument claims unjust enrichment by Reebok — that Reebok wrongly profited off its allegedly unauthorized Tebow apparel, and should be made to pay restitution.

Nike is also asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for Reebok’s alleged misappropriation of publicity rights and interference with a business relationship, the Associated Press reports.

One of Tim Tebow’s representatives has also written to Reebok to demand the company stop using Tebow’s name on its products, Nike’s lawsuit claims.

Nike’s Tebow-mania lawsuit is the latest scuffle in the company’s intense rivalry with Reebok. Nike is set to replace Reebok as the official supplier of NFL team uniforms on Sunday, the AP reports.

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