ALI FILES SUIT WITH AAG
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Active Apparel Group, the maker of licensed Everlast activewear, for allegedly using his name and signature to market its sports apparel without his consent.
In the suit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Ali claimed that he has not endorsed apparel with AAG. He has a licensing deal with the Michigan-based GOAT company, an acronym for the Greatest of All Time, which is the co-plaintiff in the suit.
Ali is seeking all gross profits made by the sale of unauthorized merchandise and punitive damages, as well as an audit of the company.
Ben Nadorf, president of Everlast, claimed that Ali started wearing Everlast activewear and using the brand’s equipment as a young man and continued to do so throughout his boxing career.
Reached at the company’s offices in the Bronx on Wednesday, Nadorf, who became a joint owner of Everlast in 1958, said the company never had a licensing deal with Ali but would routinely give him products he requested.
“He wore it on his own,” Nadorf said. “He’s a buddy.”
Seth Horowitz, director of AAG’s men’s division, said Wednesday that AAG executives had not yet been served legal papers regarding the case.
“Any use of Ali’s name was a historical reference and incidental,” Horowitz said. “We consider the claim to be unwarranted and anticipate we will successfully defend the lawsuit.”
AAG has never produced any apparel imprinted with Ali’s name, he added.
AAG is expected to complete a deal Tuesday to acquire Everlast. In August, AAG signed a $60 million cash and stock deal with Everlast, a privately held company. The new company is expected to be renamed Everlast Worldwide.
As part of the deal, AAG will own the worldwide licensing rights for the brand, as well as the Everlast facilities in the Bronx and in Moberley, Mo. Last year, the company generated $200 million in apparel and equipment retail revenues. The brand is sold by 3,500 retailers and specialty catalogs.
AAG has held the license for Everlast’s women’s activewear since 1992, and added the label’s men’s activewear to its portfolio last year. Everlast activewear sales exceeded $30 million last year, with women’s products accounting for two-thirds of that figure and men’s comprising the rest.
Nadorf said the lawsuit should have no bearing on the AAG deal.
“I don’t think the suit has much merit, from what I know of it,” he said. “I’m not a legal eagle. I haven’t seen any specifications.”