Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, stands over challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw, on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston, Me. Ali was declared the winner to retain the world heavyweight title. | Associated Press

Fox sued in Chicago over use of Muhammad Ali in Super Bowl video

SHARE Fox sued in Chicago over use of Muhammad Ali in Super Bowl video
SHARE Fox sued in Chicago over use of Muhammad Ali in Super Bowl video

The company that owns late boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s intellectual property rights has sued Fox Broadcasting Company over a promotional Super Bowl video this year that allegedly linked the game’s champions to Ali’s “greatness” without authorization.

The eight-page lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, alleging Fox falsely implied Ali’s endorsement and violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.

Fox representatives did not immediately comment on the lawsuit. The Schiff Hardin law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC.

“Fox used Muhammad Ali’s name, image, and likeness as the centerpiece of its three-minute promotional video for its broadcast of the Super Bowl, which had an estimated audience of over 111 million viewers,” Schiff Hardin said in a statement. “Fox aired its video immediately before its broadcast of the Super Bowl. Fox could have sold the three minutes it used for its promotional video to other advertisers for $30 million.”

The video in question includes actual footage of Ali throughout various stages of his career, as a narrator says, “walk with me. I can show you what it means to be the greatest.” Later, viewers see images of NFL greats such as Vince Lombardi, Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

The video concludes with Ali’s name and the years of his birth and death.

Frederick Sperling, the lead counsel representing Muhammad Ali Enterprises, also represented Michael Jordan in a pair of cases filed after Sports Illustrated published ads by grocery chains Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s. The ads commemorated the Chicago Bulls great’s induction into basketball’s hall of fame.

One of those lawsuits led to an $8.9 million verdict, but Jordan ultimately settled with both grocers’ parent company for an undisclosed sum.

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