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Nicklaus sues company over "Jack" balls

Golfer Jack Nicklaus is suing a sporting goods company which has introduced a line of golf balls carrying the brand "JACK."

"Anytime you put Jack with golf, you and everyone else knows who we're talking about," said Michael R. Reed, an attorney for Nicklaus and his golf equipment companies.

He said "Jack" in the context of golf makes people think of Nicklaus in the same way that "Babe" in baseball and "Magic" in basketball bring to mind Babe Ruth and Magic Johnson.

Nicklaus is claiming trademark infringement in the U.S. District Court lawsuit. He says Wilson Sporting Goods is misleading people into thinking Nicklaus is associated with the balls.

The lawsuit says Nicklaus Golf Equipment Co., based in West Palm Beach, Fla., has the right to the "JACK" trademark and has been making irons labeled "JACK" since 1997.

A spokeswoman for Chicago-based Wilson declined to comment for a story published Tuesday in The Columbus Dispatch.

The lawsuit says Wilson began using the "JACK" name on golf balls last year without notifying or paying Nicklaus, who has won 18 major championships, more than any other golfer.

It says the use of "JACK" is an attempt to take advantage of Nicklaus' identity after a Wilson ball endorsed by Ben Crenshaw had disappointing sales.

Wilson advertises the "JACK" balls on its Web site with the slogan "If you think there's a longer ball, you don't know Jack!"

Nicklaus Golf uses a similar slogan to sell a line of clubs: "If you don't know Air Bear, you don't know Jack."

Nicklaus and his companies want Wilson to deliver all its JACK products and promotional materials for destruction and have asked the court to order the company to stop using the name.

They also want Wilson to pay an unspecified amount of damages


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