Copyright Law

Michael Jordan is smiling after winning $8.9M in ad case, but says suit 'was never about the money'

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Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan was all smiles Friday over an $8.9 million jury award in a copyright case over a 2009 supermarket ad. It featured his name and jersey number and encouraged readers to use a coupon to get a discount on steaks.

However, the man who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles said the suit “was never about the money,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times (sub. req.),

Speaking to the media outside the federal courthouse in Chicago, Jordan thanked the jury and his legal team and said the litigation had been necessary to protect “to the fullest” his name. Although he last played in 2003, one witness testified that Jordan earned about $100 million last year in endorsement income, reports the Associated Press (req. req.).

Safeway is the owner of the now-defunct supermarket chain Dominick’s, which published the ad. Its defense counsel argued that Jordan should have been paid $126,900. The ad was published in a Sports Illustrated commemorative issue and congratulated Jordan for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, reports ESPN.

Testifying for Jordan, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist said the ad had a fair-market value of $10 million.

“Once again, this was never about the money,” Jordan said Friday. “It was about the principle of protecting my name and my likeness. This is where everything originated. So my plan is going to be to keep the money here, and give it to the charities that are in Chicago.”

A lawyer for Dominick’s declined to comment, the Sun-Times reports.

Related coverage: “Michael Jordan to testify in suit seeking up to $10M in damages over supermarket steak ad”

Chicago Tribune (reg. req.): “Brand Michael Jordan a bully in winning fight with Dominick’s”

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