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SBD Global/January 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Judge Rules In Favor Of Nike In Dispute With Oakley Over Rory McIlroy

McIlroy left Oakley for a long-term deal with Nike at the beginning of 2013.
Nike received an "early Christmas present in its legal dispute with Oakley" involving golfer Rory McIlroy, as U.S. District Court Judge James Selna ruled in favor of Nike on Dec. 18, according to Alex Miceli of GOLF WEEK. The decision "effectively ended the case." Oakley had filed a five-count complaint against Nike and McIlroy in '12 after the golfer "left Oakley and signed an endorsement contract with Nike." Oakley had "maintained that it had the first right of refusal in re-signing McIlroy and that McIlroy and Nike violated that right." McIlroy and Oakley on Nov. 24 "settled their dispute." The settlement "removed the breach-of-contract count from the list of allegations, and the court dealt with the other claims" in its ruling. McIlroy had signed a two-year endorsement deal for '11-12 that required him to "provide Oakley a right of first refusal regarding any offer received for an endorsement agreement." Nike, according to court documents, "steadfastly told McIlroy’s representatives it was not interested in signing a contract until McIlroy was legally able to do so." McIlroy's former agent -- Horizon Sports Management's Conor Ridge -- at a meeting "told Nike that Oakley was not going to match the Nike offer and signed the contract on behalf of McIlroy and also signed an additional covenant that McIlroy had no obligations that would prevent him from entering into an agreement with Nike" (GOLFWEEK, 12/30). In Dublin, Karl MacGinty reported McIlroy is "still locked in an acrimonious legal battle with his former agents at Horizon, which is scheduled to go to trial in the Commercial Court in Dublin next October." McIlroy in September "unveiled his own management company" and "at the same time filed legal proceedings against Horizon." The Dublin firm "defended itself vigorously and launched a counter-suit in November" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 1/1).
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