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NBA Champion, Finals MVP… Lawsuit Plaintiff? Giannis Heads To Court

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

As a two-time regular season MVP and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best all-around player in the NBA right now. Delivering totally awe-inspiring performances game after game, the “Greek Freak” is currently one of the most well-known basketball players in the world. With his unstoppable game play, the 26-year-old has earned his famous name and brand and has been adamant about protecting it in the past, as reported by Conduct Detrimental writer Jason Morrin.

Just a few days ago, Giannis and his attorney Anastasi Pardalis filed yet another lawsuit in New York alleging false designation of origin, false endorsement, misappropriation of intellectual property rights and violation of his right of publicity by Defendants through the unauthorized use of his name and likeness.

The August 24 Complaint names eleven (11) different defendants and claims each of them have been selling counterfeit stickers, apparel, buttons, masks, earrings, digital downloads, and other items bearing Giannis’ name and likeness on the online marketplaces RedBubble and Etsy. The lawsuit claims that Defendants’ merchandise cause significant consumer confusion as to the affiliation, sponsorship and/or endorsement by the NBA superstar.

The pleading cites to Giannis’ efforts, his impressive professional abilities, and widespread popularity that have made his well-known brand an invaluable asset.

The Complaint states that as soon as Giannis learned of Defendants’ products, he sent a cease and desist letter to each of them demanding that they immediately stop selling “Counterfeit Products violating the Antetokounmpo Rights.” In addition, he requested that Defendants provide him with a full accounting of all merchandise sold in violation of his intellectual property rights and right of publicity.

While some of the Defendants responded to the letter, they all ultimately failed to take any actions “to ensure that the counterfeit activities would cease.” Defendants’ failure to cooperate prompted Giannis to file this lawsuit to protect his prominent brand that he tirelessly worked to create.

Giannis further alleges that the Defendants’ products were sold with the purpose of “confusing and misleading consumers into believing that they are purchasing products associated with or endorsed” by Giannis and to “avoid expending any licensing fees.”

(Giannis Antetokounmpo Complaint Filed 08/24/21)

In total, the Complaint asserts the following seven (7) causes of action:

1. False designation of origin and false descriptions in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125;

2. Deceptive acts and unfair trade practices (N.Y. Gen Bus L. § 349;

3. Common law unfair competition and misappropriation;

4. Unjust enrichment;

5. Tortious interference with prospective economic advantage;

6. Conspiracy and concert of action; and

7. Violation of right of publicity

Additionally, Giannis is asking for the following relief.

(Giannis Antetokounmpo Complaint Filed 08/24/21)

Giannis has been working hard to protect his brand ever since he entered the NBA, and has more than 13 trademark infringement lawsuits to show for it. This time is no different. As a player who grew up hustling and selling merchandise on the streets of Athens, Giannis has risen from humble beginnings. With the emergence and prevalence of modern technology and widespread use of social media, professional athletes are given the tools to really make a name for themselves both on the court, and off the court.

As Bill Shea at The Athletic phrased the importance of Giannis’ previous trademark filings so nicely, “The situation is an example that experts say is one the risks that star athletes face: Protect their trademarks using the legal system or face the loss of those protections that allow them to control their image, brand and related monetization – which can be worth millions of dollars.”

By no means are Giannis’ filings an indication of greed. In my opinion, Giannis is merely using the available resources the legal system has given him to protect his name, image and likeness in the commercial space.

Stephanie is a recent graduate of New York Law School and a law clerk at Geragos & Geragos. She is also Website Editor and Guest Host for Conduct Detrimental. You can find her on Twitter @SWeissenburger_ and Instagram @Steph_ExplainsItAll

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