Samsung hit by $30m lawsuit from soccer legend Pelé over ‘lookalike’ ad

samsung sued by pele
Agência Brasil/Wiki
More used to parrying legals blows from tech rival Apple than sports stars, Samsung is now facing court action from a Brazilian soccer legend that could cost it $30 million.

Pelé is tackling the Korean electronics giant over its use of a lookalike in an ad (below) for its UHD televisions that ran in the New York Times.samsung nyt ad

Filed this month in a federal court in Chicago, the complaint alleges that Samsung had been in talks with the 70s soccer ace about promoting its products but ended negotiations in 2013, Reuters reported.

In the New York Times last October, an image of someone who “very closely resembles” Pelé showed up in a Samsung ad promoting its TVs. The ad also used a small image of a soccer player performing a “modified bicycle or scissors kick,” one of the goal-scoring maneuvers for which the player was famous.

Pelé’s lawyers also claim Samsung’s ad could harm the value of the former player’s endorsement rights, and might lead the public into thinking he endorses products made by the Seoul-based tech firm.

Represented by lawyer Frederick Sperling, Pelé, now 75, is seeking $30 million in damages, and is also demanding a ban on future unapproved use of his image by Samsung.

As Reuters notes, Sperling also took on and won a similar case for former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan involving the use of his identity in a Sports Illustrated ad by a now defunct grocery store chain. Jordan won the six-year court battle last year with the jury awarding him $8.9 million. After the chain appealed, he reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum. The former pro player announced last December he’d donated most of the money to more than 20 Chicago-based charities.

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