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Florida Court sues tennis star Sharapova
Updated: 2005-11-25 10:33

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida production company has sued tennis star Maria Sharapova over the right to market a documentary about Russian women tennis players.

The federal lawsuit filed Monday claims Sharapova objected to the use of her name and image in the documentary, "Anna's Army: Behind the Rise of Russian Women's Tennis," which was produced by Byzantium Productions, Inc., of West Palm Beach.

The documentary, which includes interviews with players and historical material, has been sold in DVD format since May, in the United States and abroad. It also has been broadcast on television in the U.S. and Russia.

"In this country where we have a First Amendment, we have the right to make documentaries about current events, subjects of interests," said attorney L. Martin Reeder, Jr., who represents plaintiff Byzantium.

In late September, an attorney for the agency that represents Sharapova, IMG, and her company, SW19, Inc., sent a letter accusing Byzantium of misappropriating Sharapova's identity, infringing on her company's commercial trademark and legal rights, and on Sharapova's personal rights, privacy rights and common law trademark rights, according to the suit.

"They sent a cease and desist letter demanding that Byzantium stop using her image and name, either in advertising or in the documentary itself, and threatening to sue," Reeder said.

Attorney Jonathan C. Koch of Tampa, who represents Sharapova and SW19, Inc. said he was not aware of the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Sharapova was the first Russian to win the Wimbledon title, and the first ranked "number one" on the WTA Tour, according to the suit.

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