NBA star Zion Williamson has additional to have enjoyable than his simply these days launched five-year most rookie contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, worth as a lot as $239 million. Williamson was moreover victorious in a lawsuit he filed in opposition to his former agent Gina Ford, and her firm Prime Sports activities actions Promoting LLC (“Prime Sports activities actions”). The case is Williamson v. Prime Sports activities actions Promoting LLC et al. throughout the District Courtroom for the Heart District of North Carolina, No. 1:19-cv-00593.
Williamson entered proper right into a promoting settlement with Ford and Prime Sports activities actions when he was solely a freshman at Duke School. He launched swimsuit in 2019, trying to find to void the promoting settlement on the grounds that it violated North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (“UAAA”), by failing to include a “conspicuous” warning to the student athlete that execution of the contract would finish in a scarcity of intercollegiate eligibility. In January 2021, the courtroom docket dominated in favor of Williamson, holding that Williamson’s settlement with Ford and Prime Sports activities actions did not comprise the required warning, and likewise failed to satisfy the UAAA’s requirements in quite a few totally different respects. The courtroom docket thus deemed the promoting settlement void and unenforceable.
The licensed battle did not end there, however. Ford and Prime Sports activities actions launched counterclaims in opposition to Williamson, along with breach of contract, fraud, and misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques and methods in violation of North Carolina’s Commerce Secrets and techniques and methods Security Act. Williamson filed for summary judgment on all of these counterclaims.
With respect to the declare of misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques and methods, Ford and Prime Sports activities actions allegations that their “strategic, full and intensive promoting plan for” Williamson, that “included the fairly a number of multimillion-dollar strategic branding and promoting endorsements, contracts and/or options that Defendants had obtained” for Williamson constituted “proprietary” commerce secrets and techniques and methods. The courtroom docket found that these allegations have been too obscure to determine that any commerce secrets and techniques and methods existed.
Of their summary judgment briefing, Ford and Prime Sports activities actions tried to determine their commerce secrets and techniques and methods with additional specificity. They argued that their thought to mannequin Williamson as “the First Zion Williamson,” reasonably than “the Subsequent LeBron,” was a commerce secret. The courtroom docket quickly disposed of that argument, discovering that the thought of “the First Zion Williamson” was every usually acknowledged and readily ascertainable, and subsequently ineligible for commerce secret security beneath North Carolina laws. Notably, such a branding plan was not new – in 2005, LeBron James’s agent publicly mentioned his focus was to make James “the first LeBron James” and by no means the “second Michael Jordan.”
The courtroom docket likewise disposed of Ford and Prime Sports activities actions’s remaining purported commerce secrets and techniques and methods, along with a Mannequin Administration Approach doc that consists solely of an inventory of companies sorted by class, corresponding to “Footwear & Apparel” and “Luxurious.” The courtroom docket found that the Mannequin Administration Approach “would not appear to comprise any information that might not be readily ascertained by watching the commercials all through any televised NBA sport.”
The courtroom docket lastly granted Williamson summary judgment as to all of Ford and Prime Sports activities actions’s counterclaims on July 18, 2022. In sum, July has proved to be a extremely fruitful month for Williamson, in every the licensed and basketball courts.