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USOC sues Hilfiger over ‘rapper’ duds

SHARE USOC sues Hilfiger over ‘rapper’ duds

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A dispute over the casual new look designer Tommy Hilfiger created for the nation's Olympic athletes is headed for trial.

The United States Olympic Committee claims Hilfiger owes them $8 million for backing out of a deal to design parade outfits for the 2000, 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams and the 2003 Pan American Games team.

According to court documents, Olympic officials had told Hilfiger they wanted a new look for the athletes, breaking from the traditional blazers, ties and slacks.

In preparation for the 2000 Sydney Games, Hilfiger sent sketches to the USOC of "a sportswear ensemble with red, white and blue panels arranged in the well-known Tommy Hilfiger USA 'flag' configuration," court records say.

Olympic committee representative Chester Wheeler was not impressed. According to court records, he told Hilfiger's lawyer the outfit was "more appropriate to be worn by rappers than by Olympic athletes."

After this dispute, the new terms of the deal called for Hilfiger to be responsible for payment of rights fees due the athletes and owners for his advertising photographs.

In August 1999 relations had grown so stormy that Hilfiger said he would not enter into a contract.

The USOC claims a letter of intent signed by both sides is binding.

"Their backing out on this has caused us considerable distress and we take it very seriously," USOC spokesman Mike Moran said.

Hilfiger's representatives did not return calls for comment.

The trial is tentatively set for next year.