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Originally written on The Last Angry Fan  |  Last updated 10/31/14

Via The Last Angry Fan:

In 2009 NBA legend Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and there was much rejoicing. Among those feting His Airness was Sports Illustrated, who put out a commemorative issue celebrating Jordan’s induction into basketball immortality. Inside that issue was an ad by a large Chicago-based grocery store chain by the name of Dominick’s, who did their own bit of congratulating, honoring Jordan with a full page ad that included his name, his iconic No.23, a and a very bad pun that segued seamlessly into a $2 off steak coupon. A recent trip to court proved MJ still got moves, though perhaps not a grasp of what his name is actually worth.

Jordan avoided attention by entering the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse through its underground garage and then taking a private elevator to U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur’s courtroom Wednesday to explain his, uh, beef, with the steak ad.

The ad did not sit well with Jordan, who was alerted to the ad via his financial adviser who happened across it while perusing the Sports Illustrated honoring his client. Jordan sued Dominick’s Finer Foods LLC and its corporate parent Safeway Inc. in 2010 for using his name without permission. His attorneys figured that fair-market value for Jordan’s name and/or image was $5 million, the majority of which would go to charity (after legal fees, of course).

U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur has already ruled against Dominick’s for their misuse of Jordan’s image, but wanted the Bobcats owner to appear in his court to discuss what reasonable damages would be, because Shadur, like the rest of us, thinks $5 million might be a bit outrageous. MJ’s lawyers had hoped to keep their high-profile client from having to appear in court, to which Shadur responded, from a May 22 transcript, “Are you allergic to the notion that he somehow ought to participate in a lawsuit that he brought?”

From the Chicago Tribune:

Shadur, who has ruled that Dominick’s is liable for a 2009 magazine advertisement that used Jordan’s name without permission, wanted the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats to appear in person to hear the judge’s views on what reasonable damages would be, according to court transcripts. He rejected a demand from Jordan’s attorney that the president of the grocery chain also appear.

“I think it would be a constructive use of time to see whether some element of sanity cannot be introduced into this matter,” Shadur was quoted as saying in a transcript of a May 22 hearing.

“I thought the demand was greedy,” Shadur said of Jordan, who is seeking $5 million in damages for a one-page ad that ran in a Sports Illustrated commemorative issue celebrating Jordan’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

The suit is ongoing, and probably won’t be resolved for a while, unless Jordan backs off on the exorbitant amount he’s suing for, which would be a wise decision benefiting everyone involved. Then again, this is the same Michael Jordan who took a chance on Kwame Brown twice, so maybe wise decisions aren’t MJ’s forte.

H/T Ball Don’t Lie

45 Comments:
  • Greedy??? Domicks is the greedy one. Dominicks attempted to associate their brand name with Michael Jordan in a big way. If you examine the readership base of the advertisement source and the customer base of dominicks foods, you'll realize that 5 million dollars is a very modest amount to ask for a multibillion dollar grocery chain deceiving potential customers into believing that Michael Jordan has endorsed their brand.

    Michael Jordan's name reaches far beyond the Ad. Its word of mouth and association that increases Dominicks volume by 10 fold and they know it, which is why they didn't mind putting the add out even though they knew they'd be sued.
  • Get real people! Dominick's paid for advertising space in a Sports Illustrated edition specifically designed to commerate MJ. They paid to advertise and SI pays MJ. He's already been paid. the court ruled Dominicks was liable for using the ad without permission. But MJ got paid thru SI. Give it a rest. $5M is way to much!
  • Please keep in mind he is donating the money after expense!!
  • Please keep in mind, kaimuki, that the right thing still has to happen at the court's level... unless, of course, you have no respect for our legal/justice system.

    I mean, let's say you caused damage to someone's personal property and they took you to court to solve the issue. And, let's say the judge sided with the other person. Would YOU be okay with said judge awarding them an amount that far surpassed the actual damages, just because that person was going to donate the money?

    Yeah, didn't think so. Just because someone, or some company, is going to donate the money doesn't mean the court should award a payoff that is unfair to the other party.
  • Please keep in mind, kaimuki, that the right thing still has to happen at the court level... unless, of course, you have no respect for our legal/justice system.

    I mean, let's say you damage someone's personal property and they sue you for damages. And, let's say the judge sides in their favor. Would YOU be okay with said judge awarding them a settlement that was far greater than the actual damage you had caused, just because the person was going to donate the money to charity?

    Yeah, that's what I thought. Just because someone, or some company, is going to donate the settlement to charity does not mean the judge should award them an amount that is unfair to the other party.
  • Dude, the whole point of the article is that the judge is calling Michael Jordan greedy, which defames is character. This is the reason for Kaimuki74's point regarding the money being donated.

    If a judge makes a claim like that to someone and he knows that his words could hurt that someone as it related to their character to lessen their worth in any way, the judge should at least have some sort of explaination as to why he feels that amount is too much based on some figures.

    Also, when people use the word "greedy", this is a personal stamp. I believe the judge may have some personal issues with Michael Jordan.

    This judge is a joke.
  • No, he didn't say "Michael Jordon is greedy", he said the "demand seems a little greedy". This is a big difference in legaleze. I say give him a delivery truck full of steaks and call it good.
  • The judge said "the demand seems a little greedy". Who's makng this demand? Michael Jordan is making the demand.

    Therefore, I conclude that the judge is referring to Michael Jordan when he incorrectly calls him greedy.

    All though your steak comment made me laugh-out-loud. that was funny.
  • I agree, The judge ruled against the company so how is the judge going to call him greedy? Its his name and companies understand that you cant use the name without person's permission. Business law 101, plain and simple. This is basic business law. It doesn't matter if its Micheal Jordon or Micheal Jackson. Greed has nothing to do with it. You have the right to control who uses your name.It is no different than using the Nike swoosh without their permission, regardless of how much money Nike has. If he doesn't control it, there would be a free for all of people using his name to make money. That's not how it works.
  • True, siffy, people do have the right to protect how their name and likeness is used. That is why the judge ruled in favor of Jordan in this case.


    However, that does not mean this judge should agree to award an outrageous settlement that far exceeds any damage done and is unfair to the offending party. No, the punishment needs to fit the crime, or, in this case, the offense... because, when a punishment goes too far beyond and above what is fitting for the crime or offense, the punishment itself becomes criminal in nature. This judge is trying to avoid that.

    So, this judge is anything but a 'joke', as birdbrain up there seems to think.

    He correctly sided with the injured party (Jordan) in keeping with the laws governing the issues at hand, but he is telling said injured party that their requested monetary award is 'greedy' and would be OVER punishment of the guilty party (the store).

    Those are not the actions of a judge who is a 'joke'. Those are the actions of a fair and reasonable judge who is trying to do the right thing by both parties.

    We need more judges who are willing to use that type of common sense and decency. What we do not need more of, are corrupt, sycophanic judges who would grant Jordan's greedy and unreasonable request simply because he is Michael Jordan, or because he is going to donate the award to charity.
  • Don't care who Jordan is donating the money to, its way to high of a price to pay for a has been basketball player, hey Jordan if you need money please let us know we will take up a collection plate for you.. Greediness at its best..
  • If it would NOT have been a commemorative issue FOR Jordan and they just threw his name out there, I might agree with you. I am sure that Jordan liked the issue, which could would not have been possible without a word from a few sponsors. He IS greedy and too bad anyone at Dominicks thought he was worth the expense of the ad and the headache and enormous ego that it helped inflate. I would be highly surprised to find that they sold more than a FEW steaks because of Michael Jordan. So sick of these celebrities! He is a piece of work!
  • Not greedy at all because Michael Jordan is a legally copy righted brand name just like Dominick's and its corporate parent Safeway Inc., and you have to get his permission legally first before his name can be used in any way, shape or form.


    It doesn't matter if it's a large Chicago-based grocery store chain by the name of Dominick’s or the local corner store.

    And MJ isn't the biggest financial vehicle here because corporate grocery store Safe-Way, the parents company of Dominick's is worth way much more than MJ.

    Copyright infringement is copyright infringement and if MJ allowed this to happen, then everyone will take clear advantage of his name an image for their own financial purposes without any regard for violation.
  • Get real people! The court rules Dominicks was liable for using MJ's name without permission. So it has been noted that the copyright infringement was wrong and that they are liable. But Dominicks ran the ad in Sports Illustrated, where they bought ad space to run it, SI should of verified the use of the name and also MJ would of gotten paid from SI. Give it a rest, $5M for an Ad ran in a magazine where M has already been paid is ridiculous!
  • MJ is a Gangsta'
  • Greedy and excessive are two words that come readily to mind. I side with the Judge on this one. Who did the ad hurt? Not a soul except MJ's pride. For charity 500K may be an appropriate sum. If MJ doesn't back off his 5mil demand, the Judge is within his power to reverse his whole decision and throw the whole thing out.
  • Greedy? No, the money would be going to charity, the chain knew precisely what it was doing in using Jordan's name without permission knowing full well it wasn't about congratulating Jordan on his achievement but how their brand could profit off being associated with the congratulations gesture and thus there was no purely selfless intent on the part of the chain. And on top of that the judge is wrong in requiring Jordan to appear but not the owner. If the judge decided that the chain's intent on the congratulations gesture wasn't purely selfless, as indicted in his original ruling, then the owner should be required to be in court to explain why his profit motivated gesture deserves a smaller award to Jordan than Jordan is seeking in his lawsuit.
  • Who cares if it's going to charity, and you really are naive let me clue you in bro. Legal "fees" which have been artificially inflated will consume most of the damages these "fees" will in essence be laundered through the attorny's and paid to Jordon under the table and off the books, minus there "actual fees". The Judge knows how the game is played that's why he's making a point here. Trust me Jordon knows the game too, play the P.R. angle say your going to give it to charity and get public support on your side. In the end Jordon will either not give any money to charity or he will give a very small amount.
  • Yes. It is greedy. Dominick's is a dying grocery chain and he should be supporting Chicagoland businesses not putting another nail in their coffin. And he was 'informed by his financial adviser'. That's what they do. Look out for and inform their client of easy opportunities to bring in more money and up their finances. Right. My arse, he'd give the money to charity.
  • I don't know anything about Dominick's, but I can tell you that Safeway the parent company is anything but a dying company. I'm from the east coast and I grew up shopping at Safeway. Safeway is a HUGE grocery chain one of the top three or four in the country. This company is worth BILLIONS. Don't feel sorry for Dominick's.
  • Greedy Dominick's? Hardly. For those of us who live in Chicago and have been privy to Jordan's career basically since it began, we know exactly how much he makes from endorsements...in the tens of millions if not more. Our question to Jordan ~ how much more do you need? Why not SUPPORT a grocery chain in the TOWN that made you, gave you your existence, gave you all the opportunities to make all the gobs of money you currently have and still make due to your endorsements? I agree, Dominick's should have gotten permission to use his name, but this lawsuit is frivolous and irrelevant. I own trademarks and copyrights myself, so I understand the laws. However, as far as I'm concerned Jordan is being juvenile and acting spoiled, and wasting the court's time that could be spent on real issues. Quite possibly he is still upset over having to pay out that HUGE sum to his ex-wife...along with now paying for his new high-maintenance wife? Legend aside, he could have easily had his attorneys ask Dominick's to pull the ad, have them make an apology and make a donation to their favorite charity. And, I don't believe any of the money garnered from this lawsuit by Jordan will go to charity,read the words "...after attorney's fees..." We all know what that means. Grow up Jordan ~ you chose the spotlight. Quit your whining.
  • Chicago didn't make Jordan, Jordan made Chicago! He would have made any city he played in during that time famous. Chicago had nothing to do with his endorsements, and career. Chicago didn't give him his basketball skills, nor did it win 6 NBA championships for him, it just happened to be the city where the greatest basketball player of all time played the majority of his career. If anything Jordan has given more to Chicago then Chicago has ever given to him. So just because Dominick's is in Chicago doesn't mean they get the hometown discount. Especially when there owned by a corporation like Safeway.
  • No the real question is Safeway and Dominick's how much more do they need. They infringed on Michael Jordan's name which HE OWNS THE LEGAL RIGHTS TO. I wonder what Safeway or Dominicks would do if Michael Jordan ran an ad using their image or name? I bet we'd see lawsuit #2.
  • I agree! The facts SHOW he slithered in like a snake. Donating to charity was likely a move recommended by his attorney to make him look better for bringing the suit. After the lawyer gets paid his cut, then and only then will the money go to charity. But it keeps Jordan in the spotlight as well. As the old saying goes, even bad publicity is publicity. Jordan is a greedy, old ball player who needs to get a life and a new lawyer. Any respect I had for Jordan just got dumped onto the pile of has been athletes who have become felons, thieves, wife beaters and greedy suckers. You may be able to play a sport, but it doesn't make you ANYMORE entitled to do things that are wrong. And this is just WRONG Jordan!
  • Here's an idea.....why don't Jordan's attorneys sue Jordan for damaging the brand "Michael Jordan?"...he is an adulterer, gambliholic losing NBA owner......the brand was doing well when he was a basketball player......he blew it.
  • Here is a fair settlement to the lawsuit:
    Mr Jordan is hereby awarded one of the coupons without having to purchase the magazine.
  • Jordan has more money than the mint, and he is bickering over a little grocery store ad? Stupid is as stupid does. I think the more money some people get, the stupider they get.

    And btw, anyone who thinks Jordan should not have appeared in court is drinking the same flavor of Koolaid as he is....

    He is the one who brought the suit in the first place. If he wants it heard, he should have to appear. He is not too good to go to court. Nobody cares about his high priced lawyers.
  • I am surprised the judge use the work greedy. That's just a little bit loaded for a fair assessment of the situation.
  • I have been a Bulls fan for a long time and what I know is Michael Jordan is a very cheap man. He doesn't like to tip. I am glad he is donating the money to charity but I am guessing he is doing it so he doesn't look greedy.
  • I hope Jordan wins the entire $5 Mil .. first of all the money is going to charity if he wins and 2nd, Dominick's SUCKS and 3rd .. MJ gave me many happy years' as a BULLS FAN !!!! Great year Bulls .. maybe next year !! We still love you all !!
    ******************************************
    GO CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS!!!!!! ... "stick" the crap out of the Bruins !!
  • OMG yes he is being greedy. The fact that he will donate it to charity has no place in this debate. It doesn't negate the fact that it's ridiculously high. Simmer down MJ.
  • Hey sista, you R twisted
  • what ever happen to Freedom of Speach? To me the ad appears to be congradulating him. I dont feel he is allowing or not. Also as a PUBLIC Figure...

    It that Denzel movie Flight... they used a lot fo Budwiser and other Alcohol products. And are allowed they dont need permission. Bud was upset at the image they were getting... Tuff, law is they can use what ever Products in the movie. Some of us might have thought Bud allowed that or paid for Product placement... nope.

    Again... same thing here, in an SI that to celebrate MJ. you would think everything on board is to say Congrats.

    It didnt have a photo of MJ saying "I beat my meat at Dominick's...So should you!!" I dont feel anything is coming from him in the Ad. Just them giving him Props.

    Maybe by use of the Images and 23... But again if they did a Movie or Ad and have a Coke can.. thats free use... I smell an Appeal and more time and $$$ wasted.
  • there is no solution to lawyer and money. government and rip0ff no different just another level. what can be said, is somebody got lose sorry safeway. smarter moves next time you mess with money. see your lawyer?
  • We are sorry to report that on appeal, all funds were exhausted after attorneys fees. We will be sending the American Cancer Society a check for the remaining funds, $1.47.
  • Totally agree kmack831 ! Absolutely waste of gov't time. This is sooo frivolous and greedy...the 'charity' buzz word has refocused the attention and I too believe, last minute damage control by MJ's PR people. SI also took the money and would seem to have NO responsibility in this, although you'd think they would do a legal dept screening of whatever they publish so as not to endanger their potential future revenue (Dominick's) and ensure good relationship(s) with their subject matters, i.e. in this case MJ, like exclusive interviews and such. This whole thing is a load of crap...just sayin !!!
  • greed for greed....nothing new. freaking brand name don't give guarantee anyway....just like my medication. Greed is passed through all the channels....really don't care
  • Everybody is SUE CRAZY. You can't even sing "Happy Birthday" without fear of getting sued.
  • Dominick's is liable, but if MJ is going to donate the money anyway, why not have Dominick's donate profits from the ad in MJ's name to a charity. The entire court battle could have been avoided. It's bad publicity for both MJ and Dominick's.
  • I think Dominick's should pay something, but not 5 million worth. I also think Sports Illustrated should pay something as well for letting this slip by. Realistically, how much did Dominick's really gain by the ad? Sure SI is sold nation wide, but Dominick's is only in the Chicago area. So, how many of those coupons were redeemed? Not many I would think.
  • Remember anything he donates is tax deductible, sure his agent apprised him of this fact.
  • You guys that are saying he isn't greedy because the money goes to charity. Please read the article one more time. It says the "majority" will go to charity. You really think he's going to give 100% to charity? Also this would be a huge tax deduction if he donates 5 mil to charity. That means MORE money in his pocket at tax time. You really think this guy is suing for a charity? He has other motives.. he sells overpriced shoes which kids get killed for in chicago.
  • Read the article. It says he's going to give a "majority" to charity. You really think he's going to give 100% to charity? Besides, all that money he does give to charity is a tax deduction. So yes, he is greedy. Because Jordan will profit at tax time because of his large charity donation.
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