Monday, September 25, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Monday, September 25, 2023 | Back issues
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Surfing Dog’s Master Sues Nike

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A pro surfer who surfs with his dog has sued Nike, claiming it misappropriated an image of man and dog riding the waves and used it to sell T-shirts.

Matt Howard sued Nike, magazine publisher Hamburger Eyes, and photographer Stefan Simikich on nine causes of action in Superior Court, including misappropriation, unfair business practices and invasion of privacy.

"Plaintiff is a well-known surfer who has gained public recognition and a valuable reputation for his surfing abilities and exploits," the complaint states. "Plaintiff has been featured in numerous surfing magazines, movies and videos. Plaintiff has become known by the public for, among other things, surfing in tandem with his dog Salima by training his dog to ride on the front of the surfboard while plaintiff stands on the surfboard behind his dog as they surf in tandem on the same surfboard. Plaintiff and his dog were readily recognizable to the public in connection with such tandem surfing. Plaintiff derived income and other economic advantage from the promotion and publication of his likeness and image while engaged in tandem surfing with his dog."

Nike sells T-shirts bearing images of Howard and Salima, and Hamburger Eyes and Simikich have published and sold photographs of them, Howard says.

"Plaintiff never gave his consent, and was never compensated, for defendants' use of the photograph, plaintiff's likeness or image," Howard claims.

He seeks an injunction, restitution, and general, special, consequential and punitive damages.

He is represented by Scott Dinsmore with Dinsmore & Sandelmann of Manhattan Beach.

Nike, Hamburger and Simikich did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

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