Pele sues Samsung for $30m over lookalike use in ad
Brazilian football legend Pele is suing South Korean electronics giant Samsung, after claiming the firm improperly used a lookalike in an advertisement.
He is claiming at least $30m (£21m), according to legal papers lodged at the US District Court in Chicago.
The advertisement for ultra high-definition televisions ran in the New York Times without Pele’s permission.
Pele, 75, whose full name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is considered by many to be the best player of all time.
He played for Brazil’s victorious World Cup winning teams of 1958 and 1970, scoring in both finals, and was in the squad which won in 1962.
With club side Santos he twice won the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup. Later in his career he went on to become the face of “soccer” in the US, as the NASL looked for a sporting breakthrough in the mid-1970s.
It is alleged that Samsung ran the advertisement after breaking off negotiations in 2013 to use Pele’s image to promote its goods.
According to the complaint, which does not name Pele, the ad includes a facial photo of a man who “very closely resembles” him, and also a small picture of a footballer making a “modified bicycle or scissors-kick, perfected and famously used by Pele”.
The iconic star now makes much of his income through product endorsements.
The complaint also says that the Samsung advertisement will damage the value of his endorsement rights and mislead consumers into thinking he backs Samsung products.
As well as seeking compensation his legal team say they also want to prevent future unapproved uses of his image.
The lawsuit was filed by Pele IP Ownership LLC, which owns the former player’s trademark and publicity rights.
Pele’s lawyer Frederick Sperling has also represented former Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan.
He helped him win a case against the former Dominick’s Finer Foods over an unauthorised use of his identity in an advertisement in Sports Illustrated magazine.