Lawsuit Brought Against Adidas Focuses on Terminology in the Sports Apparel Industry
As most fans and teams get pumped up for the National Hockey (NHL) playoffs, one Florida man is enlisted in a battle of a different kind.
Last week, apparel manufacturing giant adidas became the target of a false advertising lawsuit he filed in Florida centered around NHL jerseys. The company is the current contracted producer of the league’s jerseys.
The plaintiff alleges that adidas knowingly misrepresented what it constitutes as “authentic” apparel specifically relating to the quality of NHL jerseys. The lawsuit sheds light on the ever-present issues surrounding authentic gear, or lack thereof depending on who you talk to, that goes back years as well as terminology used across the world of sports.
The conversation actually goes deeper than just authentic gear, diving into the debate of various tiers of jerseys. In 2016, the NHL leased the production of replica jerseys to Fanatics, a deal that would extend to 2032. The last few years have seen Fanatics come under fire for what’s being called out by some fans as lesser-quality craftsmanship and inconsistency.
When it comes to the deal between the NHL and adidas for authentic jerseys, the lawsuit mainly focuses on terminology. According to an article written by Ben Wagner on The Hockey Writers, “The lawsuit claims that adidas has relied on a policy of ‘omissions, ambiguities, half-truths, [and] deceptive representations’ in order to market authentic jerseys that are indeed not authentic.” The structure of the NHL’s deal with adidas allows the former to produce the jerseys worn on-ice by NHL players as well as the “authentic” jerseys sold in stores and online.
It’s this type of language that the lawsuit cites as an issue. The plaintiff claims that the terminology used is intentionally vague, and the jerseys being marketed as authentic are actually thinner, looser, and of lower quality than those worn by the NHL players, which calls to light the definition of “authentic.” The meanings of “authentic” and “official” denote different levels of quality and are the reasons the plaintiff brought this suit forward, the article went on to say.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit maintains that adidas has violated Florida’s consumer protection statute and the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act; breached contracts, express warranties, and implied warranties; and engaged in negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment, according to an article on Yahoo! Sports.
It’s clear from the lawsuit that the intricacies of the both the terminology and laws surrounding jerseys and other merchandise are complicated to say the least. The case is currently ongoing.