CHICAGO (CBS) — The trial in Former Bulls star Michael Jordan’s lawsuit against a now-defunct grocery store chain began Wednesday.
Jordan is suing Dominick’s over its unauthorized use of his name and image in a 2009 magazine ad.
A federal judge already has ruled Dominick’s should not have used Jordan’s image in an advertisement offering $2 coupons for steaks. The issue at trial is how much damages Dominick’s parent company, Safeway, must pay. Jordan has asked for $10 million in damages.
Opening statements began Wednesday and the jury, sitting before the basketball legend, heard a breakdown of Jordan’s biggest endorsement deals from 2000 to 2012.
Attorney Fred Sperling said Nike paid Jordan $480 million over those 12 years, to go along with $18 million from Gatorade, $14 million from Hanes underwear and $14 million from Upper Deck cards.
Sperling said the starting price for Jordan’s endorsement is $10 million.
The point he’s trying to make is that the Dominick’s is worth at least $5 million in damages.
But the attorney for Safeway, the parent company of now closed grocery stores, insisted Jordan had signed agreements for far less.
Mandell pointed to the Mattel game “Scene It,” which used Jordan’s photo and name in a trivia question. Jordan was paid $5,000 for that, Mandell said.
Mandell argued the Dominick’s ad in a commemorative Sports Illustrated issue only sold 41,000 copies and was on the stands a short time.
The ad in question congratulated Jordan for his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Jordan said the use of his name and jersey number is not something companies can capitalize on for free.
“We’re looking forward to presenting Michael Jordan’s case to the jury today. This case is fundamentally about protecting Michael Jordan’s right to control who uses his identity, and how they use it,” said Jordan’s attorney, Frederick Sperling.
Dominick’s went out of business in 2013, but its parent company, Safeway, would be on the hook for damages if the jury rules in Jordan’s favor.