Geneva watchmaker tackles Ronaldo
The World Cup's top scorer, Brazilian striker Ronaldo, is in the middle of a legal battle with a Geneva watchmaker.
Ronaldo has claimed $4 million (SFr5.99 million) in unpaid fees from watchmaker Montega, which has made a counterclaim for $10 million.
Their business dealings had got off to a good start though in 1998. The Brazilian star had signed, through his Italian company Emporio Ronaldo, a sublicensing contract with Montega.
The contract gave the watchmaker the exclusive right to use the "R9" brand on top-of-the-range watches it made, sold and distributed over a three-year period. Nike created the "R9" logo in reference to the star's number on his football shirt.
The world champion was to receive $5.2 million plus royalties. But a clause in the contract stated that the footballer had to be in good health during the time of the contract and carry out promotional duties for the watchmaker according to one of the company's lawyers, Alain Macaluso.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian star, a severe knee injury in November 1999 almost ended his football career and took him away from the spotlight. Especially after a repeat injury sidelined him again in April 2000.
Montega also suffered some major damage along with Ronaldo. Advance orders worth millions of francs were allegedly cancelled, as people were no longer interested in the star and the related products.
The watchmaker ended up with merchandise it couldn't sell, and having already paid Ronaldo $1.2 million.
The problem for the company is that it believes that Ronaldo was already carrying his knee injury when he signed the contract, and didn't inform Montega. The agreement signed by the two parties would therefore not be valid.
Montega is claiming over $10 million from Ronaldo for the costs involved in creating the watch, the losses incurred as well as damages. The footballer obviously claims the contrary and says the watchmaker still owes him millions.
So far, Montega has been recognised three times by Geneva courts as being Ronaldo's debtor for $4 million. "It is shocking to see that Montega refuses to fulfil its contractual obligations towards Ronaldo, and has used his name and image illegally to sell other products," said Cyrille Piguet, Emporio's lawyer.
Representatives of Emporio Ronaldo and Montega will now have to settle their dispute in front of an arbitration court.
Still, Ronaldo may not have everything his own way. On June 27, three days before his victorious World Cup final, another Geneva court turned down a request from his company.
Emporio Ronaldo had asked for all the financial records concerning the sale of the "R9" watch to be seized, as well as any remaining watches.
The judges said they could not handle Ronaldo's request since it concerned a trademark dispute, and that seizing the watches would probably not have been considered acceptable by the court.
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