Nike and Reebok have been rivals in the sportswear business for about as long as there has been a sportswear business. Usually the competition is fairly friendly, but it has, at times, gotten a bit nasty.
Such is the case now, with a lawsuit filed yesterday by Nike claiming that Reebok is trying to capitalize on consumer interest in Tim Tebow merchandise now that he is a member of the New York Jets.
Apparently Reebok had a deal with the NFL to manufacture items–such as logo-bearing apparel and replica jerseys–which expired on March 1st of this year. Nike’s deal with them begins on April 1st, and they say that Reebok has infringed on their territory by manufacturing jerseys with Tebow’s number (15) and name on the back after the expiration date of their contract.
Nike is seeking an unreported amount in damages and the profits from all items bearing Tebow’s name that were manufactured after March 1st.
Nike, who will be the exclusive supplier of NFL merchandise under their contract, will be unveiling new team uniforms next week in NYC for every team in the league. They say all they hype surrounding Tebow and his move to New York is the most likely reason for Reebok’s infringement. One section of the suit read:
“Reebok has taken upon itself to illegitimately seize on this unique and short-lived consumer opportunity … in order to capitalize on the public’s short-lived intense consumer appetite for such products, and to prevent Nike from doing so.”