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
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.