Company says it has exclusive deal

Updated: June 24, 2009, 3:39 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- A Massachusetts company has sued Nike and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, claiming it has been cut out of the sportswear business related to Michael Jordan's upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame.

SportsFuzion Inc., of Westwood, Mass., claims plans by Nike and the Hall of Fame for a line of Jordan sportswear violate a contract SportsFuzion says gave it exclusive licensing rights to the Hall of Fame's logos, trademarks, designs and photos for use in sportswear.

Michael Jordan
Jordan

Nike is expected to release its Air Jordan Hall of Fame collection this summer, ahead of Jordan's induction into the Hall of Fame in September.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, seeks damages in excess of $10 million.

Derek Kent, a spokesman for Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike, said the company is reviewing the lawsuit.

"We believe the complaint is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously," Kent said in a statement.

Nike launched its Air Jordan sneakers in 1984. Jordan Brand was formed as a division of Nike in 1997.

Scott Zuffelato, a vice president at the Springfield-based Hall of Fame, disputed the lawsuit's claims.

"The allegations made by SportsFuzion that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Nike are parties to any agreement that conflicts with any rights that SportsFuzion may have are completely false," Zuffelato said in a statement.

"Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has demanded that SportsFuzion withdraw these allegations and issue a public apology for making these false allegations."

SportsFuzion's lawyer, Michael Bunis, said that when SportsFuzion was negotiating its contract with the Hall of Fame, the company's co-founder and president, Andrew Mirken, knew Jordan's induction into the Hall of Fame "would be the single biggest event the Hall had ever experienced."

"The whole agreement was centered around Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction some three years later," Bunis said. "The reason he entered into the agreement is to commercially leverage that event."

The company alleges that Nike and the Hall of Fame colluded to cut the company out of the deal.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press