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Ali Enterprises Jabs at Fox Over ‘Greatest’ Super Bowl Video

Muhammad Ali Enterprises is suing Fox Broadcasting Co. for $30 million because of the unauthorized use of the legendary boxer’s identity in a video that aired before Fox’s broadcast of the 2017 Super Bowl.

Lawyers for Muhammad Ali Enterprises, which owns the Ali trademark, copyright, publicity and other intellectual property rights to the champion fighter, say the video was seen by more than 111 million viewers and that Fox could have sold the time the three-minute video ran to advertisers for $5 million per 30 seconds.

"Fox obtained great value by using Muhammad Ali to promote itself. It should pay for what it took,” said Frederick Sperling, of Schiff Hardin, lead counsel for Muhammed Ali Enterprises.

The lawsuit, filed in  U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, charges that Fox used actual video of Ali, along with his slogans, including The Greatest and the Louisville Lip to say that like the fighter, the Super Bowl winner can claim to be the greatest.

The suit claims Muhammed Ali Enterprises has been damaged by Fox’s “unauthorized use of Ali’s identity.”

In addition to $30 million, the suit seeks punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, a permanent injunction requiring Fox to refrain from any use of Ali’s identity without prior authorization from Muhammad Ali Enterprises, and an order requiring Fox to delete all copies of the video.

Schiff Hardin said it previously won a jury verdict of $8.9 million in 2015 for the unauthorized use of Michael Jordan's identity in a limited distribution of a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated and is currently prosecuting a case against Samsung for the unauthorized use of the identity of the former soccer player Pele in an ad promoting Samsung and its products.