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Pelé sues Samsung over improper use of image in newspaper ad

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé is suing Samsung in Chicago federal court, claiming the electronics company improperly used his identity in The New York Times.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by attorney Fred Sperling on behalf of Pelé, 75, claiming that Samsung used a Pelé lookalike in an October advertisement for televisions. The ad's wording does not mention Pelé, but claims that the elderly black man pictured in it "very closely resembles" Pelé with a white soccer player performing a "modified bicycle or scissors kick, perfected and famously used by Pelé".

The lawsuit says the ad will confuse consumers and hurt the value of his endorsement rights. It seeks US$30 million in damages. Pelé has endorsement deals with other companies, including Volkswagen, Subway, Emirates and Procter and Gamble.

The lawsuit says the ad appeared after Samsung broke off negotiations to use Pelé's image in 2013. Specifically, the lawsuit said Samsung pulled out of negotiations at the last minute "and never obtained the right to use Pelé's identity in any manner or in any format".

Sperling is the same attorney who in August helped former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan win an $8.9 million jury verdict against the former supermarket chain Dominick's. In that case, Jordan said Dominick's improperly used his identity in a print ad.

"The goal is to obtain fair compensation for the unauthorised use of Pele's identity and to prevent future unauthorized uses," Sperling said.

Samsung spokeswoman Danielle Meister Cohen said in an email on Tuesday that the company has no comment on the lawsuit.

- AP