Diddley sings blues over Nike T-shirts

Suit claims gear sold without permission

Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley has filed suit against athletic footwear and apparel manufacturer-distributor Nike, alleging the company sold thousands of T-shirts bearing his name, likeness and the inscription “You don’t know Diddley” without his knowledge or permission.

In his suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Diddley claims that Nike continued to sell these shirts even though the company had been served with a cease and desist order in August 1999. As a result, Diddley is seeking actual and punitive damages.

The suit’s origins date back to a 1989 agreement between Diddley and Nike that resulted in a series of TV commercials featuring the musician and multisport athlete Bo Jackson that spurred the production of the T-shirts in question. This agreement ended in 1991.

Diddley claims that Nike contacted his management in 1999 with regard to reissuing the T-shirts, but that the two parties were unable to reach an agreement. However, he later discovered that Nike was selling the T-shirts though retailers, catalogs and the Internet.

“We’re aware of, but have not reviewed the lawsuit,” Nike director of global management issues Vada Manager told Daily Variety. “We have offered an agreement whereby he would receive $10,000 to $15,000 in royalty payments and we hope to resolve this matter through future negotiations.”

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