Jordan v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc,, No. 12-1992 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
When basketball legend Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, Sports Illustrated produced a special commemorative issue devoted exclusively to Jordan’s remarkable career. Jewel Foods was offered free advertising space in the issue for agreeing to stock the magazine in its 175 stores. Jewel submitted a full-page ad congratulating Jordan, which ran on the inside back cover of the commemorative issue. To Jordan the ad constituted a misappropriation of his identity for the supermarket chain’s commercial benefit. He sought $5 million in damages, alleging violations of the federal Lanham Act, the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, the Illinois deceptive-practices statute, and the common law of unfair competition. The district court accepted Jewel’s First Amendment defense, that its ad was “noncommercial” speech with full First Amendment protection. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. Jewel’s ad prominently featured the “Jewel-Osco” logo and marketing slogan, which were creatively and conspicuously linked to Jordan in the text of the ad’s congratulatory message. The ad was a form of image advertising aimed at promoting the Jewel-Osco brand; it was commercial speech and subject to the laws cited by Jordan.