IndyCar settles lawsuit over Izod sponsorship

IndyCar has reached a confidential settlement with a Florida-based sports marketing firm that claimed it was owed millions of dollars in commissions for landing Izod as the league’s title sponsor.

Details of the agreement, reached May 18, were not provided in court documents.

Boca Raton-based CV Sports Marketing Inc. filed the lawsuit in Marion Superior Court in January 2011, claiming breach of contract, unjust enrichment and defamation, in addition to other charges.

CV Sports Marketing's attorney, Robert MacGill of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, said terms of the settlement prevent him from commenting on the case.

The firm alleged that it was entitled to 10 percent of the revenue generated from the sponsorship agreement—fees that could be as high as $10 million based on CV Sports Marketing’s estimate that the Izod deal is worth up to $100 million.

Indy Racing League, now known as IndyCar, said at the time of its filing that the suit  was without merit. A spokeswoman for the league didn’t return telephone calls Friday morning seeking comment.

CV Sports Marketing, which also has clients in the National Football League and National Basketball Association, began representing IndyCar drivers in 2001.

Aware of that expertise, Speedway and IRL executives who were seeking a sponsor specifically from the apparel industry entered into an agreement in 2008 with the firm to pursue marketing opportunities, the lawsuit said.

New York-based Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., whose brands include Van Heusen, Bass, Geoffrey Beene and Izod, became interested and signed a letter of intent on May 20, 2008.

The initial sponsorship agreement called for Phillips-Van Heusen to make cash payments to the racing series of $250,000 in 2008, $300,000 in 2009, $350,000 in 2010, and $400,000 in 2011, according to the suit.

The series paid CV Sports Marketing its 10-percent commission, or $25,000, from 2008 to 2010, but did not pay the amount due in 2011, the firm alleged.

Further, and more important to the suit, Phillips-Van Heusen expanded its sponsorship agreement in November 2009 to become a title sponsor of the series. The Speedway and IRL refused to disclose the value of that deal, the complaint said.

In February 2012, a judge granted CV Sports Marketing an additional 60 days to conduct mediation sessions with the racing league, which took months to produce 248 documents involving the sponsorship agreements, CV Sports said.

“CV Sports may now—for the first time—be able to uncover critical documents requested relating to this litigation,” the company said in court documents.

The green flag drops on IndyCar's flagship race, the Indianapolis 500, at noon Sunday.

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