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Judge: Jewel Ad Mentioning Jordan Was Protected ‘Noncommercial Speech’

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Michael Jordan at his retirement press conference at the United Center. (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)

Michael Jordan at his retirement press conference at the United Center. (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal judge is siding with Jewel-Osco in a trademark suit filed by Michael Jordan.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the ad appeared in Sports Illustrated after Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. It showed a pair of basketball shoes with Jordan’s number, 23, and read, “Jewel-Osco salutes #23 on as many accomplishments as we honor a fellow Chicagoan who was just around the corner for 20 years.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

The ad included the Jewel-Osco logo, and its slogan, “Good things are just around the corner.”

The former Bulls legend claimed the ad infringed on his trademark and business interests.

But U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman ruled that the Jewel ad was “noncommercial speech” and was thus protected b the First Amendment. He ruled that the ad did not invite readers to make any kind of commercial transaction, and the use of the slogan was just a play on words, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Jordan’s attorney, Fred Sperling, told the Tribune he disagreed with the ruling, saying Jewel had witnesses that testified the store used Jordan’s identity to promote its own business.

The case is not over yet. The Tribune reports Judge Feinerman has deferred on decision about whether to throw out the case until each side submits detailed briefs.

Jordan has also sued Dominick’s Finer Foods LLC, which ran an ad in the same Sports Illustrated issue. That ad called Jordan “a cut above,” and included a $2 “Rancher’s Reserve” coupon for steak, the Tribune reported.

The lawsuit against Dominick’s is still pending.

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