Jordan in court, not on it, for trial on his brand value

Michael Jordan enters the federal courthouse Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, in Chicago, for a civil trial that will examine the market value of the basketball star's identity. The trial stems from a lawsuit the ex-Chicago Bull brought against a grocery-store chain for the unauthorized use his name and persona in an ad. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT CHICAGO TRIBUNE; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES OUT; DAILY HERALD OUT; NORTHWEST HERALD OUT; THE HERALD-NEWS OUT; DAILY CHRONICLE OUT; THE TIMES OF NORTHWEST INDIANA OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES
Michael Jordan enters the federal courthouse Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, in Chicago, for a civil trial that will examine the market value of the basketball star's identity. The trial stems from a lawsuit the ex-Chicago Bull brought against a grocery-store chain for the unauthorized use his name and persona in an ad. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT CHICAGO TRIBUNE; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES OUT; DAILY HERALD OUT; NORTHWEST HERALD OUT; THE HERALD-NEWS OUT; DAILY CHRONICLE OUT; THE TIMES OF NORTHWEST INDIANA OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES

CHICAGO (AP) – Michael Jordan was in a federal courtroom Tuesday for the start of a civil trial that will scrutinize the market value of the former basketball star’s brand and look at whether a grocery-store chain diluted that value by running a steak-coupon advertisement that invoked his name without permission.

The trial in the city where Jordan won six NBA championships with the Bulls stems from a lawsuit he filed against the now-defunct Dominick’s Finer Foods for the 2009 ad in Sports Illustrated that congratulated him on his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Text above a $2 coupon and photograph of a steak read, “Michael Jordan … You are a cut above.”

Jordan, 52, entered through the front doors of the courthouse Tuesday after Judge John Blakey denied his request to use a security tunnel. A relaxed-looking Jordan walked through a metal detector as dozens of reporters and passers-by looked on, pulling an ID from his wallet and showing it to security.

Opening statements were scheduled for Wednesday. Jury selection was completed Tuesday, with lawyers for Dominick’s questioning would-be jurors about whether Jordan’s stardom would tilt their findings in his favor.

When a dozen prospective panelists were asked to raise their hands if any considered Jordan “an idol or personal hero,” none of them did. But the judge later dismissed a man who did say he idolized Jordan. When a lawyer noted the man wasn’t wearing Nike-brand Jordan shoes, Blakey said maybe they should scrutinize if he used another product Jordan endorses.

“We should check if he was wearing Hanes (underwear),” the judge joked.

Jordan has meticulously guarded his image and the suit was an attempt to thwart companies that employ praise to slip references to him in an ad. He’s expected to testify about why he so carefully controls his brand.

Questions are also expected to arise about Jordan’s lucrative endorsement deals with multiple companies, including Nike, as the sides seek to establish the value of his image.

A separate judge previously ruled that Dominick’s did, in fact, use Jordan’s identity without permission, so the unresolved issue is damages. Jurors could decide to award Jordan millions of dollars or, if they decide no notable damage was done to his image, nothing at all.

Jordan also sued the supermarket group Jewel-Osco for a similar ad congratulating him on his Hall of Fame induction. A lower court judge ruled in 2012 that the congratulatory message was constitutionally protected free speech and not a commercial, though an appellate court overturned that finding. That case is scheduled for trial in Chicago later this year.

___

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s