CHICAGO (CN) – White Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas sued Reebok, claiming it re-released his signature “Big Hurt” shoes without his permission.
Frank Thomas sued Reebok International in Federal Court.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5 first baseman and designated hitter, was elected to the Hall of Fame this year. He had a .301 lifetime batting average, with 521 home runs and 1,704 runs batted in over a 19-year career, 16 years of it with the White Sox.
Nicknamed “The Big Hurt” by broadcaster Ken Harrelson in 1992, Thomas was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner, and two-time American League Most Valuable Player.
“Over the years, Thomas has licensed various aspects of his identity, and the Big Hurt Mark in connection with the commercial endorsement of products,” the complaint states.
“In 1995, Thomas licensed aspects of his identity in connection with his endorsement of Reebok products. However, in 1998, Thomas’ endorsement of Reebok’s products and Reebok’s license and/or rights to use any aspect of Thomas’ identity or the Big Hurt Mark terminated.
“Notwithstanding the termination of its rights in 1998, in or about December 2013, Reebok began using Thomas’ identity and the Big Hurt Mark in connection with the sale of shoes without Thomas’ consent. Furthermore, Reebok’s unauthorized use of Thomas’ identity and the Big Hurt Mark was made a part of Reebok’s international advertising campaign that involved other former professional athletes and public figures affiliated with Reebok including Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Rick Ross, French Montana and Swizz Beatz (Reebok Classic Retro Campaign).
“Since 1998, Thomas has never given Reebok permission to use his identity, the Big Hurt Mark or his endorsement in connection with the sale of shoes or the Reebok Classic Retro Campaign, and Reebok had no authority to do so,” Thomas says. (Parentheses in complaint.)
Thomas demands Reebok’s profits from the sale of the shoes and punitive damages for violation of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, false endorsement, false designation of origin, fraud and unfair competition.
He is represented by Steven Thompson with Ungaretti & Harris, who declined to comment when contacted by Courthouse News.
Thomas will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in July.
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