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The National Basketball Association = scans_daily?

The NBA has cancelled plans to release a “Krypto-Nate” T-shirt after DC complained about stupid copyright infringement. After this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend, during which wee Nate Robinson leaped over Dwight Howard to win the slam-dunk contest (Howard was wearing a Superman cape, like he did last year, and Robinson was wearing a green Knicks jersey and using a green ball), the NBA planned to release green T-shirts with “Krypto-Nate” written across the back:

Yeah, well, DC put the kibosh on that right quick. Actually, they didn’t really put the squeeze on the NBA, they just pointed out that, as Superman and Superman-related stuff (such as Kryptonite) belongs to them (but for how much longer?????), they should get a piece of the action. The NBA decided to kill the shirt instead.

I heard about this on Pardon the Interruption this afternoon, where Michael Wilbon ripped DC for giving up the free publicity this would garner them. Hmmm … that sounds familiar! How dare DC exercise its property rights? Don’t they know that everyone who buys a Krypto-Nate T-shirt would immediately rush out to buy DC comics? It’s marketing gold, baby!


If people REALLLLLLLLY want a Krypto-Nate jersey that badly, they might as well get one made up.

Disney (and any other company with a profitable character) would do the same thing if someone did this with one of its characters. DC gets a cut of anything sold with a Superman logo on it, so why should this be any different?

PTI can often be more annoying that interesting, anyway.

Also… are there that many people out there who have never heard of “kryptonite”? I’m pretty sure it’s pretty well established in pop culture that DC doesn’t need the free publicity.

Especially from the Knicks. Ew.

This incident calls to mind an earlier legal battle involving the “kryptonite” name when DC halted the Kryptonite bike lock company from selling totes, t -shirts, etc. with “kryptonite” emblazoned on it: http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/23/news/midcaps/kryptonite/index.htm.

I don’t think this is that odd. The NBA approached Warner Bros. and DC about the rights to kryptonite when they did the Slam Dunk Contest and they gave the NBA approval. But now they also want to make money off of it without paying DC? That seems fairly silly of the NBA.

When I heard these shirts announced, I just figured that they had worked out a license fee. That they did not is just foolish of the NBA, as they clearly have established that they know they’re dealing with WB/DC’s IP.

Rohan Williams

March 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Didn’t Howard’s people work out some sort of Superman shoe deal with DC? Aren’t Howard’s people also Robinson’s people? Definitely seems weird they wouldn’t have gotten approval for this.

If Howard does have a shoe deal that involves DC, that would be done through Howard’s personal business.

This is done by the league.

So there would be different people doing the deals, but yeah, either way, it’s weird of the NBA not to get approval for the jerseys.

While the defence is superficially the same there is one major difference between this and the scans_daily thing- scans_daily was a fan community in which no money changed hands. That’s not the same as selling something with copyrighted material on it without paying the owner, not by a very long shot (no pun intended).

I’m just having some fun, David. Yeah, this is quite different from scans_daily.

heh, fair enough. Just thought I’d get that in there before someone turns up and starts calling all bsketball fans subhuman scum… ;)

Basketball fans are all subhuman scum!

Dammmit, foiled by Wynne. Next time!

It might not be publicity (since it’s famous anyway), but it’s almost certainly protected under parody.

Rohan Williams

March 4, 2009 at 5:31 am

Yeah, Brian, it would be different people doing the deal, but if the NBA got approval from DC to do the dunk contest thing, and Howard’s people got approval for the shoe (I got the impression the league was involved in those talks as well), and Robinson’s agent is the same as Howard’s, it’s possible these same people had just sat around the same tables often enough that they thought it was fair game.

Still more than a bit presumptuous, though.

For the record I would have thought about buying a “Krypto Nate” jersey, but I am a Knicks fan.

I remember while watching the Dunk Contest, we all just kinda looked at that jersey and thought “… well, I guess they’ll be selling it on Monday”. And then everyone noticed that it’s orange and green, and… geez, that’s a fugly colour scheme unless you go to the University of Miami FL.

Why not just put “Robinson” on the back? Everyone knows that’s what it’s referring to. The Krypto-Nate thing is a typical example of the NBA overmarketing something.

And, yeah, Wilbon has no idea what he’s talking about. It wasn’t some obscure reference or anything.

I heard the NBA is going broke anyway. Couple that with a legal bitchslap from DC, and David Stern has seen much better days.

Odd that the NBA would be unwilling to share the profits. The NBA must not have thought the terms of the arrangement would have been profitable. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense at all.

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