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Only in Hollywood? Superstar sues “Basketball Wife”(ex-girlfriend)

According to the Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. blog (a wonderful source for off-the-wall intellectual property lawsuits), Miami Heat superstar, Chris Bosh filed suit yesterday in California District Court seeking to enjoin — and I quote — “the mother of his child,” Allison Mathis, from appearing in a VH1 reality show called Basketball Wives (mostly ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, it sounds like).  The suit allegedly also names television producer, Shed Media.

Basketball Wives is the brainchild of Shaquille O’Neal’s ex-wife, Shaunie O’Neal who’s its creator and executive producer.  According to her bio:


Shaunie’s goal with her series was to shed light on the complex lives of the women who stand beside these larger-than-life professional athletes and to show that it’s not all glitz and glamour.

. . .

Having been married to one of the most famous basketball players of all time, Shaquille O’Neal, Shaunie is Queen Bee to the rest of the wives, who swarm to her for advice and guidance.


According to Shed Media’s website:

[framed_box] . . . this series is about the insider life of the wives, girlfriends and a few ex-wives of some of the biggest ballers in the game.  These ladies live the life.  They drive the best cars, live in the biggest mansions, wear designer clothes and jewelry and only travel first class.  But living the high life is not all glamour.  In order to protect it, they have to deal with the jealousies and dramas of living in – and staying in – the inner circle.  They must also keep the groupies at bay while their husbands and boyfriends are traveling on the road for over six months of the year playing ball all the while wondering if their spouses are being faithful to them.[/framed_box]

So, were I a basketball superstar (or even a bench warmer), I too would not want my “story” revealed on this TV show.  But would I sue to stop it?  Might I risk damages for frivolous litigation as stated in the PTO’s recent report on trademark bullying?

Bosh’s claims apparently are based on trademark infringement, right of publicity and invasion of privacy (I was unable to locate the filing on PACER).  Though I haven’t yet seen Bosh’s Complaint, based on the theories he’s supposed to have asserted, I don’t see how his case is a winner.  But does that matter?

Well now, that depends on how far this case gets.  I presume there’s an indemnity clause in Ms. Mathis’ contract with Shed, so that it will be covering her defense as well.  I also presume Shed Media would rather focus its resources on TV production than litigation, thus this case may settle very quickly.  Then again, even though the settlement likely would be confidential, just the fact that it happened could set a bad precedent for Shed Media with basketball stars, so there long-range interests may require that Shed defend itself in this litigation. Either way, now that the case has been filed Shed will have to devote resources to resolving it.

You just never know what will cause people to file lawsuits.  Attorneys help their clients understand and evaluate risks, ideally avoiding those they cannot afford to take.  Even still, only the client can determine its risk tolerance.

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