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Yahoo! Sports has a story about how a federal court judge stood up to basketball legend Michael Jordan last week, taking a dim view of a lawsuit that Jordan filed in 2009 against Safeway-owned Dominick's in Chicago.

The suit was filed when Jordan was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Dominick's took out an ad in local newspapers congratulating him - and, saying that he was "a cut above" other players, offered a coupon good for a discount on its Rancher's Reserve steaks.

Jordan, apparently annoyed that his image and name had been used without permission, sued Dominick's for $5 million.

While U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur has ruled that Dominick's has some liability for using Jordan's likeness without permission, he also said last week that Jordan's $5 million price tag was "greedy," and that he was making a "legal mountain" from a "legal molehill."

He did all this without excusing Dominick's for what he called an ad that was "ultimately stupid and really totally without common sense." But the judge seemed verklempt about the fact that Jordan did not even want to appear in court to make his case (he forced him to), and Shadur said he thought "it would be a constructive use of time to see whether some element of sanity cannot be introduced into this matter." (Perhaps making him a lonely beacon of rationality in the legal system.)

What was intriguing about this is that in reading some of the other coverage of this lawsuit, the general consensus seemed to be that while Jordan may think he's being the best defender of his own image and brand equity, in fact he's managed to reinforce the image of him as being a great basketball player but often poor excuse for a human being. (I did not remember, for example, his petty and vindictive speech at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies ... but the stories about this lawsuit brought those up again.) Imagine how different the case would be if Jordan had argued that, in exchange for the use of his image, Dominick's should be required to supply steaks to Chicago's homeless shelters for a set period of time.

Brand equity is, for most businesses, the most important thing they have. And it is interesting to consider what the best ways are to sustain and grow that equity. The suggestion from stories about this case suggest that Jordan, in defending what he views as his rights, is actually hurting the broader case.

Worth thinking about.
KC's View: