The Commercial Court battle between Rory McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management is the only legal row remaining to be settled in the wake of the world No 6's decision to manage his own affairs.
According to Alex Miceli in Golfweek, the US District Court ruled on December 18 in Oakley's case against Nike and did so in favour of the company that decided to invest at minimum of $100m in McIlroy.
Oakley had filed a five-count complaint against Nike and Rory McIlroy on 10 December 2012 after the two-time major winner left Oakley and signed a a mega-contract with Nike just 12 months ago.
Oakley maintained that it had the first right of refusal in re-signing McIlroy and that McIlroy and Nike violated that right.
Following an out of court settlement between Oakley and McIlroy, announced on November 24, the American apparel and eyewear company still had four counts pending against Nike in the California courts.
Accusations of "international interference with contractual relations; violation of a California code on unfair competition; breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings; and demands for declaratory relief" were all dismissed by Judge James Selna.
After the court found in favour of Nike, the Oregon based sports giant told Golfweek in a statement: "We are pleased with the court's decision as it reflects the professional approach with which we undertook the negotiations."
According to the court's findings, Nike first approached McIlroy in 2012. In a phone conversation Sept. 12, 2012, between Nike representatives and Oliver Hunt, McIlroy’s attorney, a deal was seriously discussed and Hunt represented to Nike that McIlroy was free to discuss such a deal.
Thirteen days later, Nike extended to McIlroy’s representatives – Conor Ridge, then McIlroy’s agent, and Hunt – a substantial offer for five years to start in January 2013, to which McIlroy’s representatives agreed in principle.
On Sept. 28 and 29, the parties met in Chicago to complete negotiations. That's when McIlroy’s representatives first raised the Oakley issue of first right of refusal to Nike.
McIlroy had signed a two-year endorsement deal for 2011-12 that required McIlroy to provide Oakley a right of first refusal regarding any offer received for an endorsement agreement covering the period after the McIlroy-Oakley agreement.
According to the court, Nike steadfastly told McIlroy’s representatives it was not interested in signing a contract until McIlroy was legally able to do so. At that meeting, Ridge told Nike that Oakley was not going to match the Nike offer and signed the contract on behalf of McIlroy and also signed an additional covenant that McIlroy had no obligations that would prevent him from entering into an agreement with Nike."
Whether or not the McIlroy-Horizon case reaches the Commercial Court in Dublin next October - with the possibility of seeing Rory McIlroy in the witness box - remains to be seen.