boxing_gloves.jpgLos Angeles – Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC is suing digital bookseller Kobo Inc. for trademark infringement.  Allegedly, Kobo used the three-time World Heavyweight Champion’s famous “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” slogan in an advertisement without permission.

According to the complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court, the Toronto Canada-based Kobo used the slogan last month in an advertisement for its digital eReader Touch, an electronic book reading device.  Kobo’s new Touch device was revealed on May 23, 2011 and hit U.S. store shelves on June 10 for $129.99. 

The boxer’s slogan is a registered trademark and is licensed to third parties.  In addition to seeking a court order to block Kobo’s use of the slogan, Ali, 69, is also seeking unspecified damages.  The advertisement “made commercial use of the Muhammad Ali slogan and Muhammad Ali’s name without permission from or compensation to Muhammad Ali Enterprises,” according to the complaint.  Kobo spokeswoman, Karina Tang, had no immediate comment on the allegations.

The unauthorized use of Ali’s trademarked slogan occurred in a June copy of the New York Times where it and his name appeared as the most prominent wording in the advertisement.  This is not the first time that the slogan has been used in an advertisement.  Both Nike and Gatorade have used it to promote their products, giving credit and compensation to Ali.

Ali, who retired from boxing in 1981, won 56 of 61 professional boxing matches with 37 knockouts and three World Heavyweight titles during his 21-year career.  The entire slogan reads: “Float like a butterfly.  Sting like a bee.  Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”  Ali’s most famous quote was made in 1964 prior to his fight against champion Sonny Liston.