HC orders status quo on Nike-Virat Kohli contract

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virat kohliBangalore, August 21:  The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered maintenance of status quo with regard to a contract that Nike India Pvt. Ltd., multi-national sportswear and equipment company, entered into with cricketer Virat Kohli to endorse its products.

Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh, before whom the appeal filed by Nike India came up for hearing, ordered issue of emergent notice to Mr. Kohli.

The company questioned the order of a civil court in Bangalore that had refused to grant an ex-parte injunction, restraining Mr. Kohli from soliciting, negotiating or entering into any agreement with any third party with respect to the endorsements or services covered by in its contract.

‘Nurtured him’

“The civil court had failed to appreciate that the company paid Mr. Kohli exorbitant sums of money under the contract, and has supported and nurtured him during his early days as a cricketer based on the assurance and agreement that the contract could be duly extended by a period of one year,” the company claimed.

The appeal said that Nike had entered into a “cricket consultant contract” with Mr. Kohli from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007, and later a fresh contract was signed for the period between August 1, 2008 and July 31, 2013 for exclusive endorsement rights. Mr. Kohli was paid Rs. 1.42 crore for this contract. This contract had a clause for extension of contract for another year, till July 31, 2014 with certain conditions.

The company claimed that it had not only extended the contract for another year, but had also offered to sign the contract with Mr. Kohli beyond 2014, and there were negotiations from both the parties in this regard.

However, the company has contended that Mr. Kohli on June 6, 2013 wrote a letter “making certain self-serving and baseless allegations with respect to implementation of the contract” and rejected extension of contract. This action of Mr. Kohli, the company alleged, was due to non-acceptance of his “unilateral and unreasonable terms” suggested by him.

Pointing out that Mr. Kohli has been negotiating with third parties in violation of terms of its contract with him, the company has said that refusal of ex-parte injunction by the civil court would cause severe hardship as any endorsement of a rival brand by Mr. Kohli would cause immeasurable damage to its brand.

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