• Navratilova Faces Off Against Gay Credit Card
  • April 2, 2005
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • Tennis star Martina Navratilova is suing the sponsor of a credit card marketed to gays and lesbians, saying it illegally uses her name and likeness after her request to stop.

    Navratilova is seeking at least $75,000 in damages from Do Tell, Inc., which markets the Rainbow Card. The card helps fund the nonprofit Rainbow Coalition, which promotes the health and social wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

    Navratilova, a gay and lesbian activist, helped form Do Tell, Inc. in 1995 with two other founders, and Do Tell had used Navratilova to market the card with her permission since the card's launch, according to the complaint. But in late 2004, Navratilova came to odds with the card's marketing, which she described as "inappropriate and repugnant." Navratilova's lawyer said that Do Tell was considering promoting the Rainbow Card on a TV show that Navratilova felt betrayed gay and lesbian causes.

    On February 8, 2005, Navratilova's lawyer sent a letter to Do Tell telling them to stop using her likeness. The suit charges that Do Tell, based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, has continued to use Navratilova to promote the card.

    Navratilova is a nine-time Wimbledon champion and winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles. She also owns a record 167 singles titles and 40 Grand Slam doubles titles.

    Significance: Navratilova is seeking compensatory damages of $75,000 for injury to her business, reputation, and goodwill and $1 million for "willful and wanton acts of unfair competition and infringement." The outcome of her lawsuit will depend on the state laws governing the use of Navratilova's likeness without her permission (she has filed complaints in Florida, where she lives, and Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered), as well as the particular facts of the dispute.