Federal Judge Shuts Down` Michael Jordan in Lawsuit

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Last Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that a Chicago area grocery store chain’s reference to Michael Jordan in an ad published in Sports Illustrated was “noncommercial speech” and protected by the First Amendment. Jordan sued the chain over the ad, which appeared over three years ago, when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The former Chicago Bulls star contends that the ad by Jewel-Osco infringed on his trademark and business interests. The layout featured the Jewel-Osco logo and the company’s slogan “Good things are just around the corner.” Above that is a pair of basketball shoes with the number 23 (Jordan’s jersey number) on the soles with the words “Jewel-Osco salutes #23 on his many accomplishments as we honor a fellow Chicagoan who was ‘just around the corner’ for so many years.”

“The page does not propose any kind of commercial transaction, as readers would be at a loss to explain what they have been invited to buy,” said U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman after Jordan’s trial. Jordan’s attorney, Fred Sperling, tells the Chicago Tribune that they disagree with the ruling, while a Jewel-Osco spokesperson says the company is “pleased” with the outcome. Both sides will file briefs in the coming months.