Brazilian football legend, Pele is suing South Korean electronics Samsung, for using his lookalike in an advertisement and he is claiming damages of at least $30 million (£21 million). The advertisement for ultra high-definition televisions ran in the New York Times without Pele’s permission.
The lawsuit which was filed by Pele IP Ownership LLC, which owns the former player’s trademark and publicity rights, 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, the ad – which does not name Pele – 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 complaint also stated that the Samsung advertisement will damage the value of his endorsement rights and mislead consumers into thinking he backs Samsung products. Asides seeking compensation ,his legal team say they also want to prevent future unapproved uses of his image.
The 75-year old legend who now makes his money from endorsements, was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, and is considered by many to be the best player of all time. He already has deals with companies including Volkswagen, Subway, Emirates and Procter and Gamble.
He played for Brazilian World Cup winning teams of 1958 and 1970, scoring in both finals, and was in the squad which won in 1962. He also played for club side Santos and he won the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup twice. 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.
Samsung spokesman, Danielle Meister Cohen declined to comment on the case as at the time of this report.