Muhammad Ali Enterprises has 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 alleged unauthorized use of 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 the boxing legend. Muhammad Ali Enterprises is owned by Authentic Brands Group and the Muhammad Ali Family Trust.
Fox used 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, according to the complaint. Fox aired its video immediately before its broadcast of the Super Bowl.
Schiff Hardin’s Frederick Sperling, lead counsel for Muhammad Ali Enterprises, stated: “Fox obtained great value by using Muhammad Ali to promote itself. It should pay for what it took.”
No stranger to this practice area, Schiff Hardin won a jury verdict of $8.9 million in 2015 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.