NBA star Zion Williamson has extra to have fun than his just lately introduced five-year most rookie contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, price as much as $239 million. Williamson was additionally victorious in a lawsuit he filed in opposition to his former agent Gina Ford, and her company Prime Sports activities Advertising LLC (“Prime Sports activities”). The case is Williamson v. Prime Sports activities Advertising LLC et al. within the District Courtroom for the Center District of North Carolina, No. 1:19-cv-00593.
Williamson entered right into a advertising and marketing settlement with Ford and Prime Sports activities when he was only a freshman at Duke College. He introduced swimsuit in 2019, in search of to void the advertising and marketing settlement on the grounds that it violated North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (“UAAA”), by failing to incorporate a “conspicuous” warning to the scholar athlete that execution of the contract would end in a lack of intercollegiate eligibility. In January 2021, the courtroom dominated in favor of Williamson, holding that Williamson’s settlement with Ford and Prime Sports activities did not comprise the required warning, and in addition failed to fulfill the UAAA’s necessities in a number of different respects. The courtroom thus deemed the advertising and marketing settlement void and unenforceable.
The authorized battle didn’t finish there, nevertheless. Ford and Prime Sports activities introduced counterclaims in opposition to Williamson, together with breach of contract, fraud, and misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques in violation of North Carolina’s Commerce Secrets and techniques Safety Act. Williamson filed for abstract judgment on all of those counterclaims.
With respect to the declare of misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques, Ford and Prime Sports activities allegations that their “strategic, complete and intensive advertising and marketing plan for” Williamson, that “included the quite a few multimillion-dollar strategic branding and advertising and marketing endorsements, contracts and/or alternatives that Defendants had obtained” for Williamson constituted “proprietary” commerce secrets and techniques. The courtroom discovered that these allegations had been too imprecise to determine that any commerce secrets and techniques existed.
Of their abstract judgment briefing, Ford and Prime Sports activities tried to determine their commerce secrets and techniques with extra specificity. They argued that their thought to model Williamson as “the First Zion Williamson,” fairly than “the Subsequent LeBron,” was a commerce secret. The courtroom rapidly disposed of that argument, discovering that the idea of “the First Zion Williamson” was each usually recognized and readily ascertainable, and due to this fact ineligible for commerce secret safety underneath North Carolina regulation. Particularly, such a branding plan was not new – in 2005, LeBron James’s agent publicly acknowledged his focus was to make James “the primary LeBron James” and never the “second Michael Jordan.”
The courtroom likewise disposed of Ford and Prime Sports activities’s remaining purported commerce secrets and techniques, together with a Model Administration Technique doc that consists solely of a listing of firms sorted by class, akin to “Footwear & Attire” and “Luxurious.” The courtroom discovered that the Model Administration Technique “doesn’t seem to comprise any info that might not be readily ascertained by watching the commercials throughout any televised NBA recreation.”
The courtroom finally granted Williamson abstract judgment as to all of Ford and Prime Sports activities’s counterclaims on July 18, 2022. In sum, July has proved to be a really fruitful month for Williamson, in each the authorized and basketball courts.