Legal action taken against Fox for ‘unauthorized use’ of Muhammad Ali likeness in Super Bowl promo
Today Muhammad Ali Enterprises filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Fox Broadcasting Company seeking in excess of $30 million in damages for Fox’s unauthorized use of Muhammad Ali’s identity in a promotional video that Fox broadcast immediately before the start of Fox’s broadcast of the 2017 Super Bowl.
Muhammad Ali Enterprises owns the trademark rights, copyrights, rights of publicity, and all other intellectual property rights of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali Enterprises is owned by Authentic Brands Group and the Muhammad Ali Family Trust.
Fox used Muhammad Ali’s name, image, and likeness as the centerpiece of its three-minute promotional video for its broadcast of the Super Bowl, which had an estimated audience of over 111 million viewers.
Fox aired its video immediately before its broadcast of the Super Bowl. Fox could have sold the three minutes it used for its promotional video to other advertisers for $30 million.
Schiff Hardin’s Frederick Sperling, lead counsel for Muhammed Ali Enterprises, stated: “Fox obtained great value by using Muhammad Ali to promote itself. It should pay for what it took.”
In 2015 Schiff Hardin won a jury verdict of $8.9 million for the unauthorized use of Michael Jordan’s identity in a limited distribution of a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated and is currently prosecuting a case against Samsung for the unauthorized use of the identity of the former soccer player Pele in an ad promoting Samsung and its products.