Jack Nicklaus' lawyer issues statement after Golden Bear dealt legal blow

A Florida judge has ruled Jack Nicklaus' former business partner would retain the rights to the Golden Bear's name, image and likeness.

Jack Nicklaus' lawyer issues statement after Golden Bear dealt legal blow

Living golf legend Jack Nicklaus is locked in a battle for his identity. 

Per SI, a district court judge ruled on 1 August that Nicklaus' former business partner, Howard Milstein, would retain the rights to Nicklaus' name, image and likeness (NIL). 

Eyebrows were raised in May 2022 when it emerged the Golden Bear was being sued by his own company: Nicklaus Companies. 

The lawsuit, brought by Milstein, alleged tortious interference, breach of contract and breach of judiciary duty against Nicklaus and his company GBI Investors. 

It was argued that Nicklaus had engaged in: 

"Repeated acts in bad faith against the best interests of the Company, including acts to intentionally and maliciously undermine the company."

Nicklaus Companies argues it paid the 18-time major champ and 73-time PGA Tour winner $145m in May 2007 for exclusive rights to his course design services, marketing, promotional and branding rights. 

Other claims against Nicklaus include the icon 'improperly negotiating with officers of Golf Saudi'.

Nicklaus is said to have been offered $100m to be the chief exec of LIV Golf. The role is now occupied by Greg Norman

Whilst Nicklaus did admit to that meeting at The Bear's Club, he claimed he did so out of courtesy. 

SI reports that judge Robin Rosengberg of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida ruled that, 'Due to a prior decision against Nicklaus by the New York County Supreme Court on the exact same property in question in Nicklaus Companies, LLC v. GBI Investors Inc., he lacked the ability to grant Nicklaus any control of the property in question'. 

It was argued the issue was a question of exclusivity vs. non-exclusivity. 

After the decision was made, Nicklaus' lawyer Eugene E. Stearns told SI:

"It doesn't change anything. We will just be back in Florida State court where it started." 

Last December, Nicklaus filed a motion to dismiss the entire case. It was swiftly rejected. 

It was the same time his deposition was made public, which you can read here

Nicklaus argued his former business partner Milstein 'acted as if he owned me'. 

Below are two key exchanges where Nicklaus claimed Milstein tried to control 'every aspect of my life'. 

Q. What led you to decide to end your employment?

Nicklaus: "I had just had enough. I had enjoyed a successful career both in professional golf and the design of golf courses, and I had earned the respect of many throughout the world. I had turned my success in sport into success in business, and then I ruined it by allowing Howard to invest in that business.

"I did not want to be under Howard’s control any longer. So, I decided it was time to end my employment with the company and begin the five years I needed to serve before I could design golf courses and endorse products on my own again."

Q. Did your relationship with Mr. Milstein change after he obtained permanent control over the company?

Nicklaus: "It did. Once Howard had permanent control of the company, he acted as if he owned me. He tried to control every aspect of my life, from what I did, to whom I spoke with, to where I went, as if I was his property.

"I always tried to be respectful, but there was no respect in return. I also tried very hard to make the relationship work, but it became increasingly obvious that I had aligned myself with a person who didn't respect me as a human being."

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