Ali Estate Sues FOX Over Super Bowl Video

Muhammad Ali Enterprises on Tuesday filed a $30 million federal lawsuit against Fox Broadcasting Company. The suit claims that Fox used without permission the late boxer’s identity in a video that aired just before its broadcast of the Super Bowl last February.

Filed by Muhammad Ali Enterprises  in Chicago, the company contends that Fox used Ali’s “name, image and likeness as the centerpiece of its three-minute promotional video” prior to kickoff to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots that attracted a national audience of 111 million viewers.

Lawyers for Muhammad Ali Enterprises contend that Fox could have sold those three minutes of time just before the start of the Super Bowl to advertisers for $30 million, which is how they got to the figure they are looking for.

“Fox obtained great value by using Muhammad Ali to promote itself,” attorney Frederick J. Sperling, who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “It should pay for what it took.”

The claim states that the video, which included the images of NFL greats such as Joe Montana, Vince Lombardi and Tom Brady, was “far more” than a tribute to Ali eight months after his death. It says the video was done in such a way as to “define greatness and ultimately compare the NFL legends to Ali and thus to define them and the Super Bowl as ‘greatness’ too.”

The lawsuit also says the video “falsely implies” that Ali or Muhammad Ali Enterprises had endorsed Fox. Muhammad Ali Enterprises owns the trademark rights, copyrights, the right of publicity and all other intellectual property rights of Ali.

Eddie Motl, a Fox vice-president, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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