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Celebrity endorsement litigation update: Michael Jordan wins big

Basketball superstar/icon and business titan Michael Jordan has long been accustomed to winning in every type of challenge he faces, and it turned out to no different in federal court last week.

We mentioned Jordan's legal battle against a now-defunct Chicago grocery store (which was owned by a still operating and deep-pocketed corporation) in our immediately preceding blog post. We noted in our August 17 entry the vying estimates in court regarding the fair market value of an unauthorized Jordan endorsement. One side -- obviously Jordan's -- argued that Jordan should be paid many millions for the use of his likeness. Attorneys for the defendant countered that Jordan's name should not be overvalued and that an ordered payment should be in an amount far less than that.

Unsurprisingly, Michael Jordan won his endorsement battle, with one media account discussing the case and outcome describing the mega-celebrity as being "visibly delighted' following the jury's verdict that issued last Friday.

Defense counsel in the case had pushed for a damage award not exceeding $126,900. Jordan's legal team had posited a baseline figure of $10 million as a reasonable amount for use of his name and likeness.

It became clear which way the outcome was headed when, during jury deliberations following the trial's conclusion, the judge was handed a note stating that, "We need a calculator."

It took jurors about six hours to come up with a figure of $8.9 million to compensate Jordan for the misuse of his name and likeness.

The case "was never about the money," Jordan said following the trial, but, rather, about his need to protect the name and professional image he worked hard for.

Jordan said that he will donate the full damage award to local charities.

Source: CNBC, "Supermarket must pay Michael Jordan $8.9 million for using name," author uncited (Associated Press), Aug. 22, 2015

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