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Hoops legend Michael Jordan filed suit this week in Cook County Circuit Court against Chicago-area chains Jewel and Dominick’s over congratulatory ads the grocers ran after Jordan was inducted into the Basketball hall of Fame in September, according to published reports. The lawsuits claim that the full-page ads, which ran in a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated devoted to the sports star, constituted an infringement on his trademark and business interests.
Jordan’s complaints allege that the ads attempted to connect Jordan to the chains without permission, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Dominick’s ad features Jordan’s number, 23, and a Rancher’s Reserve steak, which the suit noted he would never be associated with, since it would create a conflict with steakhouses and a direct-mail steak business that both bear Jordan’s name.
The Jewel ad contains a pair of Air Jordan sneakers with 23 on the tongues, below a message closing with Jewel’s “just around the corner” slogan. According to the complaint, the sneakers are a “misleading copy of Air Jordan Basketball shoes” that are part of an endorsement deal between Jordan and Nike, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The suits seek at least $5 million in damages from each chain, attorney fees and to prevent either grocer from using the celebrity’s name in subsequent ads.
Dominick’s is a banner of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, while Jewel is a division of Minneapolis-based Supervalu. At presstime, officials from both chains were unavailable for comment.