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Soccer legend Pelé suing Samsung over advertisement

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé is taking Samsung to court for running a full-page ad in The New York Times that features a lookalike of him.

Published onMarch 30, 2016


The 75-year-old Brazilian soccer* legend Pelé is taking Samsung to court for running a full-page ad in The New York Times that features a lookalike of him. Pelé is seeking $30,000,000 from the Korean electronics giant, claiming that they used his identity without obtaining the rights to do so. The ad does not mention the athlete by name, but it does feature a large, close up image of a man who strongly resembles Pelé juxtaposed with an image of a Samsung television depicting a player using a “modified bicycle or scissors-kick, perfected and famously used by Pelé.”

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Some are arguing that the move being performed by the player on the screen is actually a volley, and not a bicycle kick, however it’s very difficult to argue about the strong resemblance the lookalike bears toward the legendary soccer player. Further adding to Pelé’s case is the fact that he was previously in negotiations with Samsung to use his identity for just such a marketing campaign back in 2013. However, the two never reached an agreement of terms, and Samsung decided to go in a different direction. Pelé’s lawyers are now saying that it’s clear that Samsung simply chose to go with a lookalike and omit the athlete’s name so as to avoid paying compensation for authorized use of Pelé’s identity.

samsung logo mwc 2015

Pelé is being represented by attorney Frederick Sperling, who once won Michael Jordan $8.9 million when a supermarket chain used the basketball player’s identity in a campaign without Jordan’s consent. “The goal is to obtain fair compensation for the authorized use of Pelé’s identity,” said Sperling, “and to prevent future unauthorized uses.” He claims that unfair use of his client’s identity could reduce the value of his endorsements and mislead consumers.

What do you think of Samsung’s use of this athlete’s identity without finalizing negotiations? Let us know your take on this lawsuit in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned to Android Authority for all the latest goings-on in the tech world.

*Yeah, I know it’s football in Brazil and every other metrically-inclined part of the world, but you’ve got yourself a yank at the helm of this article, so soccer it is.

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