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Violation of apparel contract lands Reebok in hot water with Nike

Tim Tebow, the incredibly popular quarterback with a highly-infectious and positive attitude that teammates and fans love, is involved in a contract dispute. No, Tebow didn't have anything to do with breaking any contract - but his popularity seems to be a driving force of litigation between athletic companies Reebok and Nike.

First, some background: for a decade, starting in 2002 and ending this year, Reebok was the official merchandise supplier of the National Football League. Nike obtained the new contract for NFL merchandise, which begins on April 1 and runs for five years. As a part of the switch, Reebok could only sell its existing NFL inventory starting on March 1. That means any players traded or any new apparel produced as of March 1 could not be sold by Reebok.

On March 21, Tim Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. So surely Reebok was only selling Broncos jerseys adorned with the Tebow name, right?

Not so, says Nike. They filed suit against Reebok claiming that their rivals have been selling Tebow-branded New York Jets apparel since the quarterback's trade. According to the lawsuit, the combination of Tebow's popularity and his move to the big lights of New York City creates massive demand for such apparel.

"Reebok has sought to take advantage of this unique, short-lived opportunity by supplying, without authorization or license, Tebow-identified New York Jets apparel to retailers in New York and elsewhere around the country," the lawsuit says. In addition, the lawsuit claims that a representative for Tim Tebow told Reebok that they shouldn't use Tebow's name on jerseys, shirts, and other athletic equipment.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Nike Sues Reebok Over Tebow Apparel," Chad Bray, Mar. 28, 2012

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