Michael Jordan Sues Two Grocery Stores

Hall of Famer claims chains used his likeness without permission -- while congratulating him

By Matt Bartosik
|  Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009  |  Updated 7:29 AM EDT
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Michael Jordan is a winner. Watch out Dominicks and Jewel.

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Jewel and Dominick's may be retail competitors, but they've made a common enemy in Michael Jordan.

The Basketball Hall of Famer filed lawsuits Monday against both Chicago-area grocery store chains for alleged unauthorized use of his identity in their advertisements.

It all started when the two chains took out full-page ad spaces in a commemorative Sports Illustrated issue, congratulating Jordan for his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jordan's attorneys argue that the advertisements did more than just offer respectful praise. They were sneaky attempts at associating His Airness with their brands.

In the Jewel ad, a pair of red and white sneakers with the number 23 on the tongues are an "inaccurate and misleading copy of Air Jordan basketball shoes," says the lawsuit. Above the shoes, a message congratulates the "fellow Chicagoan who was 'just around the corner' for so many years."

Jewel's current slogan is "Good things are just around the corner."

According to the suit, "Jewel-Osco never received Jordan's permission to use his identity or to imply his endorsement in connection with the good and services offered by Jewel-Osco."

But Dominick's may have committed an even more offensive faux pas.

The complaint says that the Dominick's ad calls Jordan "a cut above" and then features a photograph of a cut of steak. At the bottom of the page is a coupon for a Rancher's Reserve steak, a trademark of Dominick's parent Safeway, reports the Chicago Tribune.

But there are already two steakhouses and an online steak company named after Jordan. There is no way he would ever allow his name to be used by the grocery store, "especially not to sell steaks in direct conflict with his restaurants," as the suit says.

Each lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, attorney fees, and a permanent ban on both stores from using Jordan's name in future ads.

Next time, they might want to congratulate Jordan with a cake instead.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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