PN Lawyers was featured in a Law360 story about a high-profile trademark case involving NBA Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, otherwise known as “Greek Freak.”
“Giannis Antetokounmpo literally came from nothing and he has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today,” the basketball player’s attorney, Anastasi Pardalis, told Law360.
“He is confident the US legal system will protect what he and his family are building.”
A Pennsylvania artist has been creating and selling apparel depicting NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s nickname “Greek Freak” without the basketball player’s permission, according to a trademark lawsuit filed Monday in New York federal court.
Antetokounmpo, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and in June was named the NBA’s MVP for the 2018-19 season, was born to Nigerian parents in Greece and is known as the “Greek Freak” to fans for his exceptional height of almost 7 feet and his speed and ball-handling skills, according the complaint.
The basketball star has registered his nickname as a trademark and spent a considerable amount of time, money and resources developing the brand and entering into licensing deals to market authorized “Greek Freak” products including shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, sports jerseys and hats, the complaint says.
“Antetokounmpo has used the Greek Freak brand continuously and exclusively and any products offered under that mark are directly associated with him,” the complaint says.
But Reading, Pennsylvania-based artist Jinder Bhogal has been advertising and selling various unauthorized products on his website under the “Greek Freak Collection,” Antetokounmpo alleges. Even after receiving a cease-and-desist letter in May alerting him of his infringing products, Bhogal never responded to the letter and didn’t show any evidence that he had stopped the alleged infringing activities, the complaint says.
Shortly after receiving the letter, Antetokounmpo said, Bhogal removed all of the merchandise under the “Greek Freak Collection” from his website. However, the “Greek Freak” mark is still being used on Bhogal’s Facebook page, the complaint says.
As of Monday evening, Bhogal’s Facebook page did not appear to advertise or feature any items under the “Greek Freak Collection.”
“The products offered by [Bhogal] under the Greek Freak mark were of a particular aesthetic not aligned with [Antetokounmpo] and of a substantially lower quality than the products offered by [Antetokounmpo],” the suit says.
Antetokounmpo claims the products sold by Bhogal under the “Greek Freak” mark were meant to confuse and mislead customers into believing they were buying products associated with or endorsed by Antetokounmpo, according to the suit.
The suit includes claims of trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, trademark dilution, unjust enrichment, unfair competition and false labeling in violation of the Lanham Act.
Antetokounmpo is asking that Bhogal be stopped from any more acts of infringement of the “Greek Freak” mark, as well as trebled monetary and/or statutory damages sustained by Antetokounmpo as a result of Bhogal’s alleged unlawful conduct.
“Giannis Antetokounmpo literally came from nothing and he has worked extremely hard to get to where he is today,” the basketball player’s attorney, Anastasi Pardalis, told Law360 in an email Tuesday. “He is confident the US legal system will protect what he and his family are building.”
A representative for Bhogal did not immediately respond to Law360’s requests for comment.
Antetokounmpo is represented by Anastasi Pardalis of Pardalis & Nohavicka LLP.
Counsel information for Bhogal was not immediately available.
The case is Giannis Antetokounmpo v. Jinder Bhogal, case number 1:19-cv-06304, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
–Written by Lauren Berg.
–Editing by Daniel King.