Nike/ Sega Settle Suit Over Video Game Ad

LOS ANGELES–Nike said on Wednesday that Sega of America Dreamcast and its agency, Leagas Delaney in San Francisco, have agreed to settle a lawsuit for copyright infringement filed by Nike.

The suit, filed in February in Federal Court in Oregon, charged that a Sega TV ad for its NBA 2K2 videogame was a virtual scene-by-scene reenactment of Nike’s 1996 “Frozen Moment” ad. The Nike ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., featured a Bulls-Lakers NBA game with Michael Jordan in which fast-paced basketball action shifts to slow motion as Jordan slam-dunks.

The settlement announced by Nike calls for Sega to pay legal fees and donate $100,000 in Nike’s name split between the Boys & Girls Club of Portland, Ore., which is home to Nike’s world headquarters, and Memphis, Tenn., home to Nike’s primary U.S. distribution center. Sega, which had pulled the ad shortly after the suit was filed, also agreed to permanently shelve the ad.

The statement released by Nike also included an apology from Sega and Leagas. “We deeply apologize for creating an ad that so closely resembled Nike’s memorable ‘Frozen moment’ ad, which understandably tarnished Nike’s feelings towards Sega. In no way did Sega of America, or our advertising agency, Leagas Delaney, intend to show any disrespect to the Nike brand or athletes with its advertisement for the Sega Sports NBA 2K2 videogame,” the statement read.

The suit filed by Nike originally requested that Sega pull the ad and pay unspecified damages or “a reasonable royalty on all sales of NBA 2K2 videogames.”

Nike representative Scott Reames said: “I think we got our point across with the apology. We will defend our copyright and we will take legal action when we feel it’s necessary.”

Sega representative Gwen Marker said there was no basis to prove that Sega was guilty of the copyright infringement. “Sega volunteered to donate the money rather than engage in a long legal battle,” she said, adding that the videogame maker worked with Nike to identify the Boys & Girls Clubs that will receive the money.

Leagas Delaney officials could not immediately be reached.