Looks like the king is headed to court! LeBron James‘ media company, Uninterrupted, has been accused of unfairly profiting from a phrase he uses that a Maryland nonprofit says is a trademarked slogan, according to CBS News.
“I am more than an athlete,” is trademarked by youth development organization Game Plan, and it claims James‘ company generates revenue based on that phrase. Game Plan is also including three other companies in the filed lawsuit. The complaint also names ESPN, Nike, and video game company Take-Two Interactive (NBA2K) as defendants.
“Uninterrupted, with the help of the most recognizable athlete in the world and the most prominent athletic clothing company and sports media content producer, generated revenue using a wordmark that is nearly identical to Game Plan’s mark,” the nonprofit stated in its complaint.
The nonprofit is seeking to sue Uninterrupted, ESPN, Nike, and Take-Two Interactive for $33 million. The organization alleges that it has been using the slogan “More Than An Athlete” ever since 2016, and got a trademark for the phrase in 2018.
According to the complaint filed, “On February 16, 2018, following that Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers pre-season NBA basketball game, in Washington, D.C., the most popular athlete in the world took to Instagram to respond to the now-infamous ‘shut up and dribble’ comment made by news personality, Laura Ingraham, on FOX NEWS. In response to ‘shut up and dribble,’ LeBron James posted a picture to his Instagram account, capturing a neon light sign bearing the words “I AM MORE THAN AN ATHLETE.” And, he added a hashtag that read ‘we will not shut up and dribble.’ The February 16, 2018 picture, on LeBron James’s Instagram account, captures a sign within the Los Angeles offices of Uninterrupted.”
“Instagram is a premier social media and marketing platform, where Mr. James boasts millions of followers from around the world. This neon light sign got substantial coverage throughout the media when LeBron James made this Instagram post. This media conflict or dispute with news personality Laura Ingraham gave LeBron James and Uninterrupted the opportunity to use the mark ‘I AM MORE THAN AN ATHLETE’ in connection to LeBron James being ‘more’ than a basketball player.”