The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t have the best season. In addition to finishing last in the AFC South, the off-pitch drama led to fans staging a “clown out” by sporting rainbow wigs and painted faces to the season finale. Faced with the prospect of being associated with the Clown Out, Roofclaim.com – one of the team’s sponsors – filed a lawsuit against the Jaguars, demanding damages, an injunction to prevent the team from using its trademarks , and the cancellation of the sponsorship agreement.
The parties finalized the sponsorship deal on August 31, 2021. Though concerned about the team’s not-so-stellar record, Roofclaim.com were reportedly persuaded to make the investment when the Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as head coach. Meyer was released after just 13 games. Roofclaim.com negotiated a provision that allows them to terminate the contract if Meyer is no longer the head coach, but that provision does not take effect until the third year of the contract.
Roofclaim.com’s lawsuit is based on the argument that the Jaguars breached the agreement by failing to provide “the sponsorship benefits described in the agreement.” Although the agreement provides a detailed list of benefits, the complaint does not specify which benefits were not provided. Instead, Roofclaim.com alternatively argues that even if the team delivered the benefits, the Jaguars “created such a toxic environment around their brand” that the sponsorship has now become a disadvantage for RoofClaim.com.
Unless Roofclaim.com can better articulate the nature of the violation, this lawsuit may just be an Hail Mary unlikely to result in a victory. But while we wait and see if the Jaguars have a better record in court than they do on the field, this case is a reminder that companies need to think carefully about their termination options before entering into a sponsorship. Both sides are unlikely to go home with their wish lists, but they should at least go home with a realistic understanding of their options.
On the plus side, the Jaguars won their last game.