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Oakley suing McIlroy and Nike

Last updated: 17th December 2012


McIlroy: Contract dispute

McIlroy: Contract dispute

Apparel-maker Oakley is suing golfer Rory McIlroy and his new sponsor Nike for an alleged breach of contract.

According to an ESPN report, Oakley are claiming that their existing contract with McIlroy was breached when he signed his lucrative new Nike deal.

A lawsuit, filed in federal court in California a week ago, states that Oakley tried to use its right of first refusal to match the Nike offer, but that McIlroy and his agent Conor Ridge ignored the counteroffer, which constituted a breach of contract.

Oakley claim it has suffered "irreparable" damage as a result of McIlroy's refusal and are seeking an injunction that would prevent Nike and McIlroy from implementing their new deal, as well as added damages.

It is understood that a string of emails between Ridge and an Oakley representative form the basis of McIlroy's management company's defence, with one particular email from a sports marketing executive at Oakley named Pat McIlvain saying: "Understood. We are out of the mix. No contract for 2013. Pat Mac."

That particular email seems to be what has prompted the management company to assert that "McIlroy has fulfilled all of his obligations to Oakley, and the claims in the lawsuit are entirely baseless," as the message is in effect a waiver of Oakley's contractual rights to renew with McIlroy.

What muddies the waters, however, is that McIlroy's team continued to bargain with Oakley, supplying dollar amounts that would needed to be matched or exceeded, after that email was sent.

McIlvain's mail is dated September 29th, while McIlroy's team only officially concluded negotiations with Oakley on October 23rd, stating that they "would not be continuing his relationship with Oakley beyond Dec. 31" and that they "would not engage in any further correspondence on the matter of the right of first refusal".

Nike's new deal with McIlroy is said to include everything - equipment, footwear and performance apparel - leaving no room for other companies to get a slice of the action.

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