LOS ANGELES (CN) - A class action accuses Wilson Sporting Goods of defrauding consumers by selling expensive tennis racket models it falsely claims that Roger Federer used in competition.
Lead plaintiff Sari Andelson sued Wilson Sporting Goods in Federal Court, alleging fraud, false advertising, unfair competition, deceptive trade and four other charges.
Federer, 31, is not a party to the complaint.
"This action is brought on behalf of plaintiff and a class of consumers who purchased certain models of Wilson tennis rackets that have been purportedly used in competition by one of the top-ranked players in the world and 17-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer," the complaint states.
"Plaintiff and the class members purchased Federer Tennis Rackets because they were tricked by defendants Wilson Sporting Goods Company ... into believing that Roger Federer actually used a Federer Tennis Racket during competition."
In truth, Andelson claims, Federer used a discontinued older model which can be bought at a discount.
Federer is under a lifetime contract with Wilson, and the Chicago-based company has "earned handsome profits" through his endorsements, the complaint states.
But "(w)hile Federer has been willing to cash defendant's endorsement checks, he has not been willing to part with his most prized piece of equipment on the court - his tennis racket," according to the complaint.
Andelson claims that Wilson bamboozled consumers with a simple paint job.
"To trick consumers into purchasing the new, more expensive Federer tennis racket, Wilson has entered into an endorsement deal with Roger Federer, through which Wilson provides Federer with his preferred older-model racket - which has been painted to look like Wilson's latest Federer tennis racket," according to the complaint. "This occurs year after year. Accordingly, when people see Federer play - in person, on television, or in photographs - they see him using an old-model racket that is disguised to look like the latest Federer tennis racket."
Andelson claims Wilson lied to consumers to sell its rackets.
"(A)s part of its deceptive scheme, Wilson expressly represents to consumers in its press releases and other marketing materials that Federer uses the later Federer Tennis Racket," the complaint states.
Wilson falsely claimed Federer won the 2010 Stockholm Open with its Six.One Tour BLX racket, and a Grand Slam event with a Pro Staff Six.One 90 racket, Andelson says, citing Wilson press releases.
But he didn't Andelson says. "Defendant's statements were false."
Andelson claims that consumers pay Wilson for a falsely advertised racket that is "considerably more expensive than the racket Federer actually uses."
"The belief that Federer is playing with the latest model racket also creates demand for Wilson's latest rackets because it makes consumers believe that they need to replace their current rackets if they want to play at their best," the complaint states. "Wilson thus preys upon consumers who are anxious to play with the actual tennis rackets used by top professional tennis players such as Roger Federer and who believe that their game will improve by using the racket that top professionals use during competition."
Andelson says she would not have bought her Wilson Factor Six racket had she known that Federer does not use it on court.
She seeks an injunction, restitution, disgorgement and compensatory and punitive damages, and costs. In addition to the charges mentioned above, she alleges negligent misrepresentation, consumer law violations and breach of warranty.
She is represented by Daniel Alberstone with Baron & Budd of Encino.
Wilson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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