A $30 million lawsuit by Muhammad Ali Enterprises has been slapped on Fox Broadcasting Company for using Muhammad Ali as the center piece in an advertisement right before the start of this year’s Super Bowl.
Muhammad Ali Enterprises, that owns intellectual property rights associated with the boxing legend, filed its complaint in Illinois Federal Court some days ago (Tuesday).
The three-minute promotional spot in question depicts Ali throughout his career, using archival footage and referring to him as The Greatest before shifting its focus to NFL legends including Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Vince Lombardi and Tom Brady.
In a video, the narrator seems to be telling viewers that in the Super Bowl many have marched towards this same confrontation with greatness as images of Ali and others are juxtaposed.
The plaintiff asserts this is a false endorsement under the Lanham Act and a violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.
The February spot, arguably a documentary short, came eight months after Ali’s death, and according to the complaint, “Fox never requested or received MAE’s permission to use Ali’s identity or to imply his endorsement in connection with the services offered by Fox, including its broadcast of the Super Bowl.”
Muhammad Ali Enterprises is owned by Authentic Brands, which purchased trademarks and other rights associated with the boxer in 2013 from the Core Media Group which once produced American Idol when it was on Fox.
In suing over publicity rights in Illinois, the plaintiff is looking to score a similar success to Michael Jordan, who a couple of years ago won $8.9 million in damages after a Chicago-area grocery store took out an advertisement in Sports