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SBD/21/Leagues Governing Bodies
JUDGE REFUSES TO DISMISS NFL'S SUIT AGAINST JERRY JONES
Published February 21, 1996
NFL Properties can proceed with its breach of contract lawsuit against the Cowboys, according to BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York declined Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' request to have the league's contract- and trademark-infringement suit dismissed. NFL Properties spokesperson Chris Widmaier: "We expected this outcome and we expect this case to move forward." The NFL sued Jones and the team last year for more than $300M to block the Cowboys from signing endorsement deals with Pepsi, Nike, American Express and Dr. Pepper -- none of which are league sponsors. Jones has a counter-suit pending which alleges antitrust violations in the league's sponsorship enforcement (N.Y. POST, 2/21). The judge did consolidate the league's nine complaints into seven noting some repetition (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/21). FROM IRVING: Jones' response, from a statement quoted by the DALLAS MORNING NEWS: "I've been sued before and know that if we had prevailed on a Motion to Dismiss, it would be like winning a game by forfeit after the coin toss. We will continue to the next stage of the suit, where I am confident we will prevail." At issue is the use of Jones' newly created Texas Stadium logo, which features a star similar to the team's mark. Jones: "Everything Texas Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys have done is consistent with NFL policies and practices, and is no different from the activities of many different teams. The details of what other teams are doing and the inconsistent treatment of teams by the league will be exposed as this litigation, initiated by the league, proceeds" (Ed Werder, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/21). THE RULING: The Cowboys contended that because their deals neither referred to the phrase "Home of the Dallas Cowboys" nor agreed to have personnel wear unauthorized apparel on the sidelines, they were not in breach of contract. But the judge accepted the league's claim that Texas Stadium entered into the deals as a "stand in" for the Cowboys. The judge also cited a "concerted campaign to create the impression that companies such as Nike and Pepsi were sponsors of the Cowboys organization" (THE DAILY).