Michael Jordan has settled two high-profile right of publicity lawsuits with two now-defunct grocery chains – Jewel Food Stores and Dominick’s Finer Foods. In August, a jury awarded Jordan $8.9 million after a federal judge determined that Dominick’s violated Jordan’s rights under the Illinois Right of Publicity Act. Jewel and Jordan were scheduled to start their trial in December.
Both grocers placed ads in a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated honoring Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jewel’s full page ad “salute[d] #23 on his many accomplishments” and “honor[ed] a fellow Chicagoan who was ‘just around the corner’ for so many years,” playing off of the chain’s slogan that it was “just around the corner.” Dominick’s touted Jordan as “a cut above” and featured a coupon for steak.
According to Jordan, he would “absolutely not” have allowed the grocers to use his name and identity in an ad. Jordan, who testified that he “doesn’t do single ads” and does not do any deal for less than $10 million in the Dominick’s trial, claimed that the two grocers used his likeness for commercial gain without his permission.
The settlement serves as a cautionary tale for brands that might use a celebrity likeness without permission.
Image Courtesy of Flickr by David Woo