Brazil great Pelé has filed a rights suit against Samsung Electronics Co for at least $30 million, claiming the Korean company improperly used a look-alike in a New York advertisement without permission.
Although the ad doesn’t specifically mention Pelé, but it includes a portrait-sized image of a man who “very closely resembles” him, and a small photo of a football player making a “modified bicycle or scissors-kick, perfected and famously used by Pelé,” the complaint said.
Samsung had earlier placed the October ad for ultra high-definition televisions after calling off negotiations in 2013 to use Pelé’s identity to promote its products.
The three-time World Cup winner relies on endorsements for much of his income, and the ad will hurt the value of his endorsement rights and confuse consumers into believing he endorses Samsung products, the complaint added.
“The goal is to obtain fair compensation for the unauthorized use of Pele’s identity, and to prevent future unauthorized uses,” Pelé’s lawyer, Frederick Sperling told Reuters.
Sperling has also represented Basketball legend Michael Jordan and helped him win a $8.9 million jury verdict last August against the former Dominick’s Finer Foods over the grocer’s unauthorized use of the former Chicago Bulls star’s identity in an ad in Sports Illustrated.
Jordan later settled for an undisclosed amount.
The lawsuit dated March 16 was filed by Pele IP Ownership LLC, which owns Pelé’s trademark and publicity rights.