Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fox Settles With Muhammad Ali Enterprises To End False Endorsement And Right Of Publicity Suit

On Monday, July 16, in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, Fox Broadcasting Co. ("Fox") filed a Notification of Settlement of the $30 million suit filed against them by Muhammad Ali Enterprises, LLC ("MAE"), the company that owns the intellectual property rights of former Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali.  The suit alleged that Ali's likeness was used in a Super Bowl commercial without the MAE's permission.

MAE, which is owned by Authentic Brands Group and the Muhammad Ali Family Trust, alleged that a three minute ad, played as a lead-in to the 2017 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, featured images of Ali and audio of him shouting "I am the Greatest!"  The Ali images and audio clips were juxtaposed with images of past Super Bowl stars whose greatness was equated to Ali's.

The suit was originally filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois in October 2017.  The complaint alleged two different causes of action, a Federal Lanham Act claim for False Endorsement, and a Right of Publicity claim brought under an Illinois state statute.  The case was transferred to the Northern District of California in November 2017.

Fox filed both a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as well as a Special Motion to Strike the Complaint in January 2018.  MAE filed their opposition papers in April 2018.  The parties argued the motions before the Court in May 2018.  A minute Order from the May proceedings stated that the parties agreed to private mediation.  The settlement comes a few months later before the Court had made a decision on the motions.  No terms of the settlement have been released.

See Settlement filing below:

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