Muhammad Ali Enterprises files $30M lawsuit against Fox


A lawsuit filed in Illinois federal court on Tuesday alleges that footage of the late Muhammad Ali used for "The Greatest" on February 5 was used without permission by Fox, and therefore constitutes a violation of Illinois Right of Publicity Act.

They're seeking more than $30 million in damages for Muhammad Ali's likeness being used in Fox's 2017 Super Bowl ad, which aired directly before the Super Bowl.

Fox has not responded to Deadline's request for comment on the case.

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According to the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, the advertisement features a narrator saying, "Walk with me". The ad then shifts to National Football League greats such as Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady, while the narrator says "in the Super Bowl many have marched towards this same confrontation with greatness". A boxer, meant to be Ali, is shown from behind.

The lawsuit continues, "Throughout the video, it refers to and depicts Ali, following him through his boxing career and highlighting his controversies and personal achievements, including his principled stance as a conscientious objector and his lighting the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta". Unfortunately for Fox, they have to deal with that double whammy, because of a lawsuit surrounding one of the ads they ran during this year's Super Bowl.

"Fox's promotional video uses Ali's identity to promote Fox and its broadcast services", they go on to say before winding up a powerful legal left hook."Fox could have sold the three minutes it used for its promotional video to other advertisers for $30 million".

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"Fox's unauthorized use of Ali's identity, including his image and persona, in its promotional video was a false or misleading representation of fact that falsely implies Ali's or MAE's endorsement of Fox's services", the filing from Chicago firm Schiff Hardin LLP adds (read it here).

Ali died in June 3, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. "It should pay for what it took".

The lead attorney for the plaintiff is Frederick Sperling, who handled a similar case involving Michael Jordan. It is also 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.

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