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Nike Judge Orders Reebok to Stop Putting Tebow on Jets Jerseys

Nike Wins Restraining Order Against Reebok Over Tebow Jersey
A football jersey with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow's name and number is displayed for sale at a Modell's retail location in Times Square in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Nike Inc., the world’s biggest sporting-goods company, persuaded a judge to temporarily block Adidas AG’s Reebok International from using quarterback Tim Tebow’s name on New York Jets-related clothing.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan granted Nike’s request for a temporary restraining order on March 28, a day after the Beaverton, Oregon-based company filed a lawsuit. Reebok’s licensing agreement with the National Football League ends tomorrow and Nike is to become the official supplier of licensed NFL apparel.

Castel blocked Reebok from manufacturing, selling or otherwise marketing New York Jets-related apparel with the name Tebow on it. The order doesn’t apply to Denver Broncos-related apparel with Tebow’s name. Reebok must recall unauthorized Tebow products, the judge ruled.

In the lawsuit, Nike claimed it, not Reebok, has rights to use Tebow’s name. The judge scheduled a hearing for April 4 in Manhattan federal court.

Tebow, 24, helped lead the Broncos to the NFL playoffs after taking over as the team’s starting quarterback last year. He was traded to the Jets on March 21.

Tebow, a Christian who prays on the field after his team wins, was named the most popular professional athlete in the U.S. in an ESPN poll this year. His Broncos jersey was the second-highest selling of all NFL players last season, Nike said in the complaint. Public reaction to Tebow’s sudden popularity has been called “Tebow mania.”

Nike said it plans to introduce its new line of uniforms for all 32 NFL teams at an event in New York April 3.

Lauren Lamkin, an Adidas spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment on the ruling. Mary Remuzzi, a Nike spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The case is Nike Inc. v. Reebok International Ltd., 12-cv-2275, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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