Michael Jordan scored nearly $9 million from a jury last week. But was his lawsuit against the now defunct Dominick's grocery chain a slam dunk for brand Jordan, or has it fouled his reputation?
He was "right to raise a complaint," said Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. "You have to rattle your sword when people take your name and use it in an ad like that when you're someone like Michael Jordan. Where I part company is that he's pursued it this long. It was five years ago that this issue came out. It's a startling story."
"In trademark law you have to be vigilant," said attorney Eldon Ham, who’s represented numerous athletes in endorsement contracts and is a professor of sports law at IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law and a legal analyst with WSCR radio.
As to why Jordan pursued the case so vigilantly for so many years, Ham said, "You might dismiss it as part of Michael's personality. ... Losing was not something that he did well – or at all, for that matter. Maybe early on when they wrote that first cease-and-desist letter, somebody got under Jordan's skin."
Zorn said, "It feels to me like Jordan's lawyers should have just said, 'Don't do this again. Thanks for saying congratulations, we're honored, but knock it off.' And that ought to have done it."
And what about the nearly $9 million Jordan was awarded? Does that hurt his image at all?
"He keeps saying it's not about the money, but if it's not about the money, then why didn't they settle?" Zorn asked. "The Dominick's expert said it was worth $126,000. That's certainly a fair settlement."
"He has famously been saying for years now that he is going to give the entire award to charity. That's terrific, but the need to be saying that all along makes me wonder about what he thinks about [whether the lawsuit damages his image]. Is he defensive about it?"
Watch the video above for the full conversation on Chicago Tonight.
Below, a timeline highlighting Michael Jordan’s career.