Pelé sues Samsung for $30m in lookalike dispute – report

4 Apr 2016

Former Brazil footballer Pelé is suing Samsung for $30m, claiming the South Korean company used a lookalike of him for an advertising campaign.

Pelé is one of the world’s most famous sportstars and, through various endorsements around the world, rakes in millions of dollars a year. His biggest windfall, though, could be through a case against Samsung.

Reuters is reporting that the three-time World Cup winner Pelé is taking a case in the US against the company for damaging his brand.

Pelé has alleged that he and Samsung were in negotiations for an advertising campaign before the tech giant went out on its own and secured a lookalike.

The advert was for a TV and doesn’t mention the Brazilian, but the complaint says it includes a portrait-sized image of a man who “very closely resembles” him. It also has a figure making a “modified bicycle or scissors-kick, perfected and famously used by Pelé”.

The Samsung advert, via WebberPresents

The Samsung advert, via WebberPresents

Looking at the advert, it’s a bit of a stretch. First of all, the player volleying the football bears no resemblance to Pelé. Secondly, you can’t patent a soccer move, otherwise the Cruyff estate would be bulging greater and greater every time a winger dummies and cuts back in behind a defender.

However, Reuters’ suggestion that Pelé had been in discussions with Samsung, before they broke down and a ‘relatively’ familiar image was used in a subsequent campaign, makes it a little less clear.

Pelé’s lawyers are arguing that the ad will confuse consumers and dilute the value of the soccer star’s endorsements.

Main Pelé image via A.RICARDO/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic