NEW YORK - A judge rejected Reebok's bid to overturn his ban on its sale of Tim Tebow New York Jets jerseys Wednesday, saying the public can wait a few weeks for Nike Tebow jerseys to show up in stores.
"It is a minor hardship to Jets and Tim Tebow fans to have to wait till April 27 to get their jerseys," U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel said.
The judge said Nike Inc. had shown a "probability of success" in its quest to permanently halt Reebok sales of Tebow jerseys and T-shirts during a daylong hearing that follows the filing of a lawsuit last week. Reebok was blocked from selling 6,000 Tebow-Jets jerseys and 25,000 T-shirts a week ago.
Reebok International Ltd. argued for the ban to be lifted Wednesday, saying it was within its rights to create the jerseys and T-shirts even though its agreement with the National Football League Players Inc. to use players' names and numbers had expired at the end of February when Nike began its own five-year deal.
The judge also criticized Reebok's effort to capitalize on the change in teams for some big-name players such as Tebow and quarterback Peyton Manning, who left the Indianapolis Colts for the Denver Broncos. He said a sell-off clause in its apparel contracts was designed to let it sell leftover clothing.
"It's not your termination bonus; it's so you don't get stuck with unsold merchandise," he said.
The judge also boosted the amount of money Nike must post in the event Reebok ultimately wins the case but loses up to $200,000 in profits from not selling its Tebow apparel.
The judge's ruling continued the ban he imposed after Nike sued Reebok last week, days after Tebow was traded from Denver to New York. The trade came just as the Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike was preparing to take over the NFL's merchandising contract from Reebok.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press