NEW YORK (Reuters) – Miami Heat basketball forward Chris Bosh has filed a lawsuit to prevent his ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his child from appearing on the next season of VH1’s reality show “Basketball Wives.”
Bosh, who filed the suit on Monday in California federal court, accused his former girlfriend, Allison Mathis, and the show’s producer, Shed Media U.S. Inc, of commercially exploiting his trademark and identity without permission.
The show, which stars former girlfriends and wives of players in the National Basketball Association, gives the women a “worldwide platform” to use the names and likenesses of famous players for their own financial gain, the lawsuit said.
Despite its title, the show does not feature any current wives of NBA players, the suit said.
Shed Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mathis could not immediately be reached for comment.
In his complaint, Bosh said the television series threatens to dilute his trademark and confuse viewers by suggesting that he endorsed Mathis’ appearance on the show. The suit said Bosh has cultivated his trademark through YouTube videos that promote basketball programs for children.
Mathis threatens to undermine that reputation by attacking Bosh’s parenting skills on the show, the suit alleged.
In addition to trademark infringement, Bosh accused Mathis and the production company of violating his right to market his own identity and tell his own life story.
He asked for damages of at least $75,000 and injunctions preventing the use of his name or image.
The lawsuit tried to counter any potential free-speech arguments by Mathis and Shed Media by claiming that the show is primarily commercial and does not express anything “other than an attempt to profit from (Bosh’s) fame.”
The suit said the depiction of celebrity NBA players is “the very sum and substance of the show.”
Bosh is not the first NBA player to attempt to block an ex from appearing on the show.
In 2010, Orlando Magic player Dwight Howard sued “Basketball Wives” star Royce Reed in Florida court for violating an order not to talk to the media about their relationship. Howard won a $500,000 settlement in that case.
Last year, Shaquille O’Neal threatened to take legal action against his ex-wife, Shaunie O’Neal, if she mentioned him in the course of her appearance on the show, saying confidentiality agreements prevented her doing so.
In an unrelated case in 2009, Bosh reclaimed his online identity from a “cyber-squatting” company that was using his name and likeness to generate revenue on the website chrisbosh.com. A California federal judge awarded Bosh over $100,000 along with custody of more than 800 Internet domains named after other professional athletes and celebrities, which he pledged to return to the rightful owners.
(Reporting by Terry Baynes. Editing by Peter Bohan)